Photo by Suzie O'Meara Hernes
A disappointing performance for the Thunder (2-4-1) on the road led to a 1-1 tie with bottom-ranked LC Aris FC (0-5-2).
The Thunder started the game below full-strength, notably without long-time starter Tyler Limmer, who was serving a suspension. Despite this, they were on the offensive for much of the first half, with the only Aris chances coming from two corner kicks and several breakaways stopped by offsides calls.
The Thunder broke through Aris' packed defense in the 33rd minute. After fancy footwork by Thunder midfielder Kirubel Yerga, the ball found itself at the feet of Juan Mackrey with space inside the box. Mackrey tucked the ball in the corner of the net and set the Thunder up one.
Other opportunities presented themselves inside the first half, included a stretched effort by Riley Aarbo that went wide, but none capitalized. The Thunder entered halftime with a 1-0 lead.
After the break, once again Aris' best chances came from corner kicks, but the Thunder consistently repelled these attacks. Disaster struck 18 minutes into the second half. A misplayed ball in the Thunder midfield gave the Aris forward a quick break, and with the defense caught off guard, Aris equalized.
The Thunder rallied and drove attack after attack into the Aris defense, who had parked the bus inside their own half. Despite several key attempts by David Bizimana and Stevenson Storm, the Thunder could not find their way through the packed defense.
A golden opportunity presented itself in the 90th minute. The Aris goalkeeper laid out Bizimana as both players went for a loose ball, resulting in a penalty kick for the Thunder. However, the goalkeeper redeemed himself from the line, blocking the initial shot attempt by Storm. The rebound fell at the feet of Mackrey, who lofted the bouncing ball over the goal. The final score remained 1-1.
The Thunder will play top-ranked Minneapolis City next Saturday, June 19th, before taking a break from conference play with a friendly against Kansas team Kaw Valley FC on the 26th.