By Ryan Tigner/Duluth FC
It was a brisk and windy day in Duluth for Dakota Fusion FC to come into town and take on the BlueGreens. It was also Grandma’s Marathon as well and a sweet 50 degrees all day long which the runners both in the streets and on the field could be thankful for. However, come game time it began to drizzle which turned into an all-out downpour when the half had ended, which made the field slick and blurred the vision for some on the field. The game, regardless, was intense with flashy plays throughout the match.
The Bluegreens came out with a lot of energy at the beginning of the match, putting pressure on absolutely anybody who even came near the ball. Jake Starling was the main perpetrator of many chasedowns and forced turnovers. Martin Grzywa and Jessie Juarez also did an excellent job holding down the back line and sending beautiful clearances into the midfielders’ stride all game long. Some of this defense turned into offense when Andres Solares was able to lob the ball on an inbound pass that deflected off a defender who whiffed on a kick. The ball was then placed right in front of Diego Valle who faked the shot and slid it to Kostyantyn Domaratskyy. A moment later Domaratskyy landed a beautiful shot for the first goal of the game in just the sixth minute.
The Duluth forwards tried to make the most of their opportunities with the ball. Peter Oyetunji was able to control the ball in the 41st minute when he delivered a strike on the net. The goalkeeper was able to make the save but the ball ricocheted to the corner for Oyetunji to get to yet again. He then passed it over to Valle who facilitated a nifty pass to Domaratskyy who knocked it home for his second goal of the game and fifth of the season.
The second half started, and all the players were still getting drenched as the rain continued but lightened up about 10 minutes into the half. This half was more of an aerial battle than the first. Both teams were sending the ball on long clearing passes in an attempt to get one player to break free. But not much came of this strategy for either side, and the teams started to think more outside of the box to penetrate the zone. These tactics helped set up a free kick for Duluth about halfway into the second half. This kick would land smack dab in a group of people, and the play turned into a scramble. The ball eventually popped out to the corner right to Starling who chipped a perfect pass right on Wynand Wessels’ foot. Out of mid-air, Wessels then launched the ball into the upper corner of the net and scored, putting the home team up 3-0.
As the game roared on, each side continued to generate more opportunities but were halted by either the swarming defenders or the goalkeepers who both played on their heads tonight and made some spectacular saves even late into the game. This hardnose gameplay continued until extra time when the Fusion was finally able to clear one to an open man and some miscommunication by Michael Garrihy and the defenders resulted in a shot on an open net which ended the match at 3-1.
Duluth’s next match will be held back at home next Saturday, June 22nd against Minnesota Twinstars FC at the Maple Grove Crimson Stadium at 7:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Holden Law/Duluth FC