Updated: Jul 12
The Sioux Falls Thunder won their last home game in front of a huge crowd at O'Gorman Stadium on Saturday, July 9. The evening resulted in a dominant 3-0 finish for the Thunder.
A Limmer breakaway at the 20 minute mark seemed like the first real chance for the Thunder, but the defense was just fast enough off the ball to catch him and block the shot. A few more chances for the Thunder would come, only to be thwarted by the TwinStars back line.
The breakthrough moment for the Thunder came in the 27th minute. A free kick played in by Thunder defender Tatsuki Kobayashi was met with effort from midfielder James Bolger, defenders, and the Minnesota keeper, which was fumbled off the group. Thunder midfielder Trace Dobson found himself staring at the ball in the air and an open goal. One diving header later, and the Thunder were up 1-0.
The Thunder would get one more golden opportunity as halftime closed. A rapid Thunder counter and poor positioning set up forwards Tyler Limmer and Brennan Haggerty in front of the goal with not a soul around save the keeper. One simple pass from Limmer, and Haggerty slotted it into yet another open net, leaving the Thunder up 2-0 at the break.
The TwinStars would get a dangerous free kick in the 61st minute, piling most players into the box. But the kick was refuted by a strong clear, and play continued. The TwinStars kept up pressure for the next five minutes, constantly attacking the Thunder goal. Eventually, the Thunder were able to win possession and control the game again. Thunder forward Samuel Baraka got his chance during a breakaway soon after, but after beating the keeper was a few paces too short to keep it from crossing the endline.
With a quarter of an hour left, the Thunder drew a foul on the TwinStars box. The referee deemed the foul not a penalty, but a free kick. That position didn't matter to Limmer, who has proven himself lethal in free kicks from that range. A smooth shot flew right past the wall and the keeper into the bottom right corner, giving the Thunder an even stronger lead.
And despite several strong attacks from the Minnesota Twin Stars, including one breakaway stopped only by an aggressive save from Thunder keeper Lathan Kleckner, all offense eventually fizzled out. The game would finish 3-0, giving the Thunder their third win and moving them up to 5th in the conference standings.
"[It was] a great team effort," head coach Ryan Beier said about the game. "We kept possession and momentum throughout the game and took advantage of our opportunities. Huge thanks to all the fans who came out and provided a great energy to the game."
The Thunder play their last regular season game away next Friday, July 15th against Duluth FC.
***Special thanks to Travis Gallipo Photography for the game day photos.