Northern Colorado takedown MLS side Real Salt Lake 1-0.
SANDY, UT – The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round came off the back of a game that Real Salt Lake would like to forget. Losing 6-0 to New York City FC set the stage for the Wednesday night matchup that would see the fourth-ever MLS against USL League One competition. Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC enter after a heartbreaking loss to Charlotte Independence last Saturday. In the prior round Northern Colorado knocked out USL Championship side Colorado Springs Switchbacks after an extra time winner by Jerry Desdunes.
Both teams started slow to feel the match out and Northern Colorado were the first to get a corner set piece ten minutes in. Neither team really saw a clear chance until Justen Glad took a long range shot on goal nearing the half hour mark. It didn’t bother keeper Thomas Olsen coming straight into his waiting arms. With no other clear cut chances the contest rolled into halftime 0-0.
In the 52nd minute Ethan Vanacore-Decker was forced to exit the match early from an injury, being replaced by the first sub of the match Jerry Desdunes. Neither club gave much to report until the 70th minute when Rob Cornwall unleashed a shot that was blocked on the first attempt, before falling to Daniel Scally to cross it in. The cross was cleared as far as Cornwall who was there to put a thundering shot past the keeper. The momentum seemed to stay with the Hailstorm despite being out shot, they were holding more possession than they had all game. “I got the ball running into the space, my first shot wasn’t great and lucky enough it was just sitting at the edge of the box. It came down and I just concentrated and went for it,” commented Cornwall.
However, the final ten minutes of regulation came out as an all out attack by Real Salt Lake. Chance after chance came when Northern Colorado put all 11 behind the ball to see the game out. After nine minutes of stoppage time and throwing all they could at Olsen and the defense, the final whistle blew. “The boys played so well, I mean I don’t deserve most of the credit. I didn’t have that many spectacular saves, the defense was incredible. Leo, Rob, Brecc, Denso unbelievable, a keeper couldn’t ask for more. I give all the credit to them,” said Olsen post match.
“This one is even sweeter,” said head coach Éamon Zayed, “so so proud of our players tonight. They brought everything, every ounce of effort, every ounce of fight. They were solid, we talked about it, we had a game plan. We wanted to remain compact and hard to break down.”