A storm of chances raged in the final minutes, but the Sioux Falls Thunder (0-3-0) lost by a single goal to the Dakota Fusion (2-0-1) in a thrilling match at the USF Bob Young Stadium on a beautiful Saturday evening.
The Fusion started hot, putting three shots on frame before the Thunder had made an attempt. Thunder goalkeeper Jack Howard used every inch of the box, playing to the full extent of his abilities which included several massive saves at the 7 and 12 minute mark. But the Fusion kept up the pressure, sneaking in a score from Yu Tsukanome in the 19th minute off of a poorly defended throw in.
The Thunder rallied in the second half as they tend to do, buoyed by the cheers of the strong home fans. Their first real chance on goal came in the 67th minute, when a free kick by Thunder forward Marcus Horwood, struck the Fusion defensive wall. The ball bounced around and Thunder players took several shots in the ensuing chaos, but the final shot was cleared off the line by the Fusion keeper to preserve the thin lead.
A sense of repetition washed over the players when a shot from Samuel Dolobaipu, assisted by Eric Beltran with some clever footwork, was similarly cleared off the line. The Thunder piled into the opposing half and took shot after shot well into the 8 minutes of extra time. As the 90th minute mark passed, two crosses gave the Thunder even more opportunity, but a would-be volleyed goal from Robert Amaro after a chipped pass from Brennan Haggerty skimmed just wide of the bar. The Fusion desperately clung to their lead and managed to preserve the three points at the whistle and dropping head coach Robbie Carroll to three straight losses.
The Sioux Falls Thunder will be on the road for a while, with three away games before returning to South Dakota. The next game will be played Wednesday, May 31st against Joy St. Louis Park in Minnesota at 7 pm.
**Photo credits to Travis Gallipo**