Coming off of two clean sheet wins, Duluth FC looked to grab their third against a struggling LCr Aris FC side that, while managing to score a respectable amount of goals, has failed to grab a point all season. The BlueGreens’ hopes came true as, after a dismal first half in which Duluth held almost all possession but scored no goals, they scored four goals and solidified their fourth clean sheet of the season. The win also marks the first time Duluth has won three games in a row this season.
Despite the 4-0 scoreline, one of the standouts for Aris was goalkeeper Alberto Centeno, who kept his side in the game for other one half of play by making a series of remarkable saves. With Duluth managing double digit chances and shots per half against Aris, good work on the doorstep of the goal line became key in frustrating Duluth’s efforts in the final third.
Three of the four goals were the first of the season for their scorers, while Joe Watt scored his fourth goal, a near post shot past the keeper’s legs, in all competitions for 2018. The 48-minute deadlock was broken by Arad Lev Ari, who found a bit of space and shot in a loose ball after several players and the keeper fought for it in the six-yard box. Sora Wakabayashi would follow Watt’s goal to make it 3-0 when he took an ambitious shot from outside the box which slid just within the post and into the corner of the net. Leonardo Almeida, who made his first appearance in the first team for Duluth in 2018, would tap in a deflected strike from Mally Lumsden to help make his first appearance a memorable one.
Duluth’s eleven featured Gonnie Ben-Tal as a center back for the first time this season as he made his first start, his only other appearance being as a substitution at VSLT FC last week, during which he assisted Brooks Rice’s goal with a header. Alberto Ciroi made his third appearance for the club and his first start since playing Duluth’s first-ever Open Cup match against the Dakota Fusion, during which he saved a penalty to help send the BlueGreens through to the second round. While the BlueGreens’ higher possession rate meant the ball was rarely in Duluth’s defensive third, both the back line and the keeper were called into action on several occasions, including several free kicks near the 18-yard box. The match also brought the first senior appearance for Robbie Sobczak, who subbed in for Gonnie Ben-Tal in the last stretch of the match.
After conceding eight goals in their first three games, Duluth have managed to go three games without conceding a goal with four games left to play. With the top of the table remaining a tight race, continuing this positive period of both offensive and defensive performances will be key for Duluth as they look to potentially leap into the top two spots.
Contributor: Dominic Jose Bisogno/Duluth FC
Photo Credit: Alex Ganeev/Duluth FC