By Dominic José Bisogno/Duluth FC
Duluth FC kicked off Tuesday in hopes of reaching the regional semifinals in a rematch with Minneapolis City SC. The first half would bring that dream closer to existence with a header from Jake Starling, his first goal of the season and second-ever with the club.
The captain’s goal would be added to by Sidney Warden, who ran on to a through ball from Aidan Hill before slotting the ball past the keeper with ease. It would be Warden’s 17th goal of the season. It was 2-0 at halftime.
Duluth would have chances to extend the lead in the second half, but Carpathia FC would come back with a thrilling pair of goals, one a penalty and one a free kick into the top corner, both finished by Carpathia’s Owen Smith. The two goals, coming in the last 15 minutes of regulation time, would come after a considerable period of deadlock between the two sides, with both coming close to scoring on several occasions. It would end 2-2 and both teams would be forced to play 30 minutes of AET. There would, however, be no goals in AET, leading to a penalty shootout. Carpathia would then go on to win 5-4 in the shootout. This would mark the end of Duluth’s 2021 season.
It’s a year that ends short but comes with some wonderful moments, ones that could continue to prove important for years to come. Duluth had a range of players shine this season. Returning players Hill, James Westfield, Jake Starling, and Liam Condone all shined, often starting throughout the season. The group scored a combined nine goals along the way in addition to strong moments in the midfield and defense. Starling would stand as captain of the side through the year, while Condone would be nominated for the NPSL North Conference XI.
New arrivals like Brendan Dally, Marthin Grzywa, Caleb Tammi, Dylan Sumner, Jacob Daffern, and Keegan Chastey all brought new elements to the table and proved vital as Duluth pushed its way back into the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Warden proved a sensational addition to the BlueGreens roster, earning the league’s Golden Boot with 16 regular season goals. Warden also assisted six goals and scored an additional playoff goal.
Two players from nearby college the University of Wisconsin Superior, Scott Wilson and Eric Watson, also proved big arrivals for Duluth. The two earned a considerable tally of minutes across the season, with Watson also scoring on several occasions.
The season also marks an exciting start to head coach Sean Morgan’s tenure, along with his staff. The former NPSL player has found himself a strong coach in the league and has proven it well in his debut year.
Carpathia FC moves on to face Minneapolis City SC in the playoffs, while Duluth moves into the offseason and planning for another year of the beautiful game.
Photo Credit: Holden Law