The Knoxville Force men took on the New Orleans Jesters tonight at Sansom Sports Complex. While the Force had several good looks at goal, the team ultimately could not find the back of the net. Ryan Reid came up big for the Jesters, scoring both goals of the night.
The Force dominated the beginning of the game against New Orleans. For the first ten minutes, the ball rarely left the Jesters’ defensive half. It was evident to all that the Force men were on a mission tonight. However, it quickly became apparent that New Orleans’ Ryan Reid was a force to be reckoned with. His speed and perfectly-timed runs behind the Force defense caused trouble for the team early on. In the 19th minute of the game, the ball was passed up the field to a running Reid, who beat all of his defenders and shot the ball on frame. Martin Baker, the Force’s goalkeeper, blocked Reid’s first shot, but Reid won the rebound and tapped the ball into the net. The Jesters led 1-0.
For the remainder of the half, momentum kept switching between the two teams. Ryan Creel made several great runs for the Force on the left side of the field. The Force’s best chance to score came in stoppage time during the first half. Force attacker Yinka Lawal was fouled in the Jesters’ box. Lawal stepped up to take the penalty kick. While Lawal’s shot was on target, Jose Santos, the Jesters’ goalkeeper, got a hand on the ball and came up with a huge save. The score remained 1-0 going into the second half.
In the second half, Ryan Reid was once again the hero of his team. The ball passed through the Force defense, leading to a footrace between a Force defender and Reid. Martin Baker decided to come out of his box in order to clear the ball, but Reid beat him to it. The Force defense tried to recover, but Reid, even though he had no angle, shot the ball to the far side of the goal in the 56th minute. It hit the post and went in. The Jesters now led the Force by two.
Both teams fought hard until the final whistle. The intensity and desperation of the Force was evident in the final 15 minutes of the game, but the Jesters were equally as determined to keep the Force off the scoreboard. The game ended with a score of 2-0.
New Orleans secured a spot in the postseason with tonight’s win. The final spots in the Southeast Conference playoffs are still up for grabs. It continues to be a tight race for third and fourth place. The Force men need to perform well in their final two conference games if they want to keep their postseason dreams alive. Their next game is home on Saturday, July 2 against Memphis City at 7 pm.