Photos by PINstudios
A thrilling conclusion in the last 5 minutes of their home game Wednesday evening found the Sioux Falls Thunder (2-5-2) tied against Joy St. Louis Park (3-5-2) as the team once again demonstrated why you should never leave a Thunder game early.
Both teams were scoreless through the first twenty minutes despite chances from both sides, including a Joy Athletic header that was sent over the bar. But Mika Folstad of Joy would score first, deflecting a cross between the near post and Thunder goalkeeper Federico Simonetti. Joy would use that momentum to score just a minute later, with a ringer fast and low from forward Darley Florvil.
The Thunder responded quickly. Midfielder Brennan Haggerty lobbed a free kick into the box from 50 yards. Joy keeper Tucker Mann couldn’t control it, and Trace Dobson seized the opportunity, tucking the ball into the net and putting the Thunder on the scoreboard.
Home and away sides would have more chances in the first half, including a Joy shot across the box blocked by Simonetti. Nothing produced, and the Thunder went into the second half down 1.
Joy would score their third and final goal off of an injury for the Thunder in the 52nd minute. A through ball was played to Joy forward Denilson Ramos, and chasing defender Jordan Kpai went down while running, leaving Ramos in the clear for a 1-on-1 with Simonetti. Eric Beltran replaced Kpai for the Thunder, and play resumed.
The half wore on, with the Thunder making four more substitutions and Joy making none. Their weariness finally showed in the second minute of extra time when the breakthrough came for the Thunder. Stevenson Storm won the ball from the back line and play shifted to the midfield. Brennan Haggerty found David Bizimana running through the defense and lofted it over. A perfect header from Bizimana soared over Mann and into the net, pulling the Thunder within 1.
Frenzied play ensued from the Thunder, including a red card for Haggerty. The effort would pay off in the final seconds of the game. The Thunder pushed up all remaining men, including Simonetti, in a series of last attempts that resulted in a corner. The ball, played by Storm, was headed to the far post, where two Thunder players took swings at it. The deflections gifted the ball to Simonetti, who pounded it into the net in the 7th minute of extra time. The final whistle blew just seconds after the restart, and the game ended level at 3-3.
“We had an exciting game,” said Thunder head coach Ryan Beier. “Lots of up and down moments. Joy’s goals came off of our injury breakdowns. We had to claw back at the end. [Simonetti] gave himself a great going away gift.” Simonetti will return to his home in Italy for the remainder of the season, and thus has finished his last 2021 Thunder game in spectacular fashion.
The Thunder will return to their home stadium next Wednesday, July 7, where they will play the Dakota Fusion.
This post was sponsored by J&R Mechanical and Coleman AC.