Updated: Jun 19, 2022
A hot start for the Thunder matched the brutal heat as they won in their first seasonal matchup against LaCrosse Aris FC on Saturday evening.
An minor injury in the first few minutes led to Thunder forward Samuel Baraka briefly exiting the pitch, temporarily replaced by Max McLaughlin. McLaughlin would shine in his few minutes thanks to effort from Tyler Limmer, who chased down Aris' goalkeeper and dispossessed him. The ball bounced toward McLaughlin, who placed the ball first touch with care and accuracy into the bottom corner.
Rapid play from the back caught the Aris defense off guard in the 30th minute. A deflected ball from the defender played it perfectly to Michael Virgen, who took on the keeper with clinical precision, putting the Thunder up 2-0 for the scoreline going into the half.
A dangerous chance for Aris came three minutes after the break. A scramble in the box popped the ball up to their forward, who richocheted the ball of the crossbar. Redemption for Aris would follow when a long ball lofted over the Thunder defense was volleyed in, putting Aris behind by only one goal.
The Thunder would respond in the 72nd minute. A foul placed Limmer on the free kick line twenty-five yards out. A rocket from the mark had enough power to deflect off the keeper's hands and into the net, putting the Thunder up two goals again. Aris would give the Thunder a fight, scoring one more goal in the 83rd minute thanks to a counterattack. But the Thunder defense would hold strong through to the whistle, giving them their first win of the season.
Filling in as head coach, Gary Glissendorf commented: "The team played well tonight with the heat and wind. We tried to control the tempo and speed of the game and for the most part they did that and turned some of the chances into a goal. We still need to work on how to finish the game without conceding. We're ready to build on those things going into Wednesday's game."
The Thunder will play four away games before returning to O'Gorman on July 9th for their last home game of the season.
*Photo credits to Rylee Fehrenz