A back-and-forth game ended in heartbreak for the Sioux Falls Thunder (0-7-2) as they faced the Dakota Fusion (6-2-1) in a thrilling matchup on Saturday night, June 24. Despite the deluge of goals, the Thunder couldn't keep up with the Fusion offense, and lost by a single goal 4-5.
The Fusion broke the floodgates with a long ball in the 15th minute to their rapid attacker, Shoki Yoshida. The pace outmatched the Thunder defense, and Yoshida beat Jack Howard in the faceoff to put the Fusion up a goal. The Thunder responded four minutes later with a beautiful connection inside the eighteen. Javier Perez floated a perfect cross to forward Marcus Horwood who headed the ball past defender and keeper alike to tie the game.
The Thunder gained an advantage near the end of the half. Brennan Haggerty dispossessed a Fusion defender, and another combo between Jack Crombie, Perez, and Horwood resulted in another goal off Horwood's second shot. Yet the Fusion would equalize when fellow speedster Yu Tsukanome would chase a long ball yet again, and after some confusion in the box, intentional or not, between Tsukanome and Yoshida, would pummel the ball into the goal. The score at the halfway mark remained 2-2.
The goals stayed on tap throughout the second half. The Fusion put themselves in the lead for the second time in the game less than five minutes after the break. Yoshida took on two defenders and at an impossible angle nailed a lucky shot into the top corner. The Thunder did not take this lightly. In the 63rd minute, Eric Beltran humiliated his defender on the endline and took a hard shot on goal. The shot was blocked, but the rebound landed back at his feet. A chip to the six yard box sailed to midfielder Callum Bryan, who landed the perfect volley and put the score at 3-all.
Fusion would have another excellent chance with just ten minutes left after a long shot bounced of the side post and landed directly as Tsukanome's feet. Unlike Bryan, Tsukanome couldn't finish on the volley even with just Howard between him and the goal, and sent it sky high. Yet a few minutes later, Fusion forward Edward Burgos would finish inside the eighteen to put the Fusion up for a third time. And the Thunder would net an equalizer for a third time just sixteen seconds from the kickoff thanks to a perfect long ball sent to Beltran, who beat the keeper with persistence.
Fusion would have the final say with their fifth goal.when Haggerty, who was shielding the ball, was thrown down in the box allowing a Fusion player to fly in, cracking it in from ten yards to make the score 5-4. When the clock ticked down that's how the score would remain.
The Thunder return home to Bob Young Field on Wednesday, June 28th to rematch Joy St. Louis Park in their penultimate home game.