The Sioux Falls Thunder were at home Saturday, May 21st at Harrisburg High School stadium for their third conference fixture of the year. The evening was chilly but the breeze was only gusty and more manageable than the strong sustained winds they faced for match week one.
The Thunder came out ready to take on the Minneapolis City visitors and were able to establish some early momentum forcing a couple early saves from the Crows goalkeeper. After several weeks of training they are starting to show what the finished product might look like and were able to put together long stretches of sustained possession and looked dangerous in the final third several times.
Marcus Horwood opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a finish off a series of combined passes from Tyler Limmer and Brennan Haggerty. Both teams traded a few chances and possession was split fairly evenly, but neither side were able to effect the score line. The Thunder retained the lead and the half finished 1-0.
The second half started with the Thunder gaining some early momentum and creating several chances. Trace Dobson and Marcus Horwood each had opportunities that were just wide of the intended target. Then, in the 49th minute, Eric Beltran served a cross to James Bolger. Bolger brought the ball down with a deft first touch and proceed to juggle the ball forward with his next two touches and then finish the ball with a rocket past the Minneapolis City defense to give the Thunder a 2-0 lead.
The opponents from the North doubled down with their pressure looking for a way back into the match and they found it on a long through ball that brought keeper Ezekiel Foltz out of his box to win a contested header. In the moments that followed Minneapolis regained possession and found the left upper corner to finish and make it a one-goal game. In the closing minutes MSPCFC continued to apply heavy pressure looking for the equalizer. Another through ball made its way into the Thunder penalty area where a sliding tackle by Rob Amaro was deemed to be a foul and a yellow card (his second of the game, equaling a red) was issued. Foltz stepped up and dispatched the ensuing penalty kick to keep the scoreline 2-1 for the Thunder. It was his second PK save of the new season.
Unfortunately the continued pressure from the defending league champs broke down the remaining 10 men and they scored the equalizer in the very long 4th minute of added time in the final kick of the match, finishing in an unsatisfying 2-2 draw.
Assistant coach Gary Glissendorf (filling in as head coach) added these comments: "We started off strong in the match. We were able to keep possession for periods of time and limit their chances by having good defense pressure and shape. we were able to go into half with a 1 point lead and it could have been more. Second half was similar to the first and we couldn't get that third goal and with a questionable red card we had to play with 10 men for the end of the second half. With being down to 10 and the high energy/press from Minneapolis we struggled to regain control of the game. Overall good game, we have some good things to build on and some items to improve on in training."
A scheduling change at Aris in LaCrosse, Wisconsin means that the next match will be Saturday, the 28th of May, at 7:00 p.m., this time at O'Gorman High School's McEneaney Field.
Thanks to goalkeeper coach Jack Fehrenz for his contribution to this recap.
Photo credit to Victor Naranjo.