By Dominic José Bisogno/Duluth FC
Duluth entered Friday knowing they had to equal or better Med City’s result against Minneapolis City to secure a spot in the playoffs. While Med City eventually lost that game, the BlueGreens didn’t hold back in ensuring they would have a postseason.
It would be an eventful first half as Duluth hosted Sioux Falls in their final home match and regular season match. Dylan Sumner’s first half brace of headers would be equalized by a brace from Stevenson Storm, who impressed with his footwork in the box on several occasions, leaving it 2-2 at halftime. Sumner now has four goals this season.
A scrappy goal for defender Martin Grzywa, his first of the season, gave Duluth an early second-half lead before Warden scored his 16th goal of the season to give Duluth breathing room. Gabriel Campora, playing as a substitute, assisted a fifth goal which was slotted in by James Westfield to cement the lead for Duluth. It was Westfield’s sixth goal of the season and 14th with Duluth overall, further cementing his history with the club in his second season up north.
It would end 5-2 to Duluth, securing the club’s spot in the playoffs. Warden now leads the league with 16 goals from 12 games, along with six assists.
Head Coach Sean Morgan named Duluth native Keegan Chastey as Man of the Match. It’s Chastey’s first nomination of the season and comes after an impressive season from the young player, who only recently graduated high school and took his first steps in collegiate soccer.
Morgan also made some personal history on the night, earning his first berth in the NPSL playoffs as a coach. Morgan did so twice as a player for Duluth FC in 2017 and 2018, winning silverware in both those seasons. Now, as the club’s first player-turned-coach, he has the club headed toward their third-ever playoff run.
Goalkeeper Brendan Dally, playing his tenth game for the club, also impressed on the night, stopping several chances for Sioux Falls and frequently winning balls that were far from guaranteed for the South African. It’s been a tough season with its share of challenges, but the BlueGreens’ newest number one has certainly shown that he’s a key piece for the side as he prepares to now play in the postseason. He was helped along by a back line of Jake Starling, Scott McCarthy, Martin Grzywa, and Liam Condone, all of which improved on first half-mistakes as Duluth came out strong in the second half to ensure their place on the table.
Duluth FC will play in the playoffs this Tuesday, though the location and opponent will not be set until later this weekend when Cleveland SC faces Erie Commodores FC as seeding involves all three conferences in the Midwest Region.
Photo Credit: Holden Law