Northern Colorado score three in the first half to power a 3-1 win over Charlotte Independence.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The going away party to Canvas Stadium was a successful one for Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC on Sunday. Playing host to Charlotte Independence on a warm day in Fort Collins, it is the last time these two sides will face each other until a possible meeting in the postseason. Both sides took 2-1 victories over the other in their first two meetings in Charlotte this year.
The first major shift in the game came just a quarter of an hour in. Jerry Desdunes was taken down in the box by keeper Adrián Zendejas, leading to just the third penalty kick of the season. Irvin Parra stepped up to take the penalty kick as he had with the first two this season, and put it past Zendejas. The keeper was able to guess correctly which side, but the placement of Parra gave his club an early 1-0 lead.
Just seven minutes later, came the first London to London connection of the season, when Arthur Rogers linked up with Nortei Nortey. Nortey was able to get his head on the corner kick swung in by Rogers, and find the back of the net in the process, doubling the Hailstorm lead to 2-0. Rogers has moved into a tie for second most in the league in assists with this contribution.
“Feels great obviously,” said Rogers on tying for second most assists in the league. “But personal accolades aren’t why I’m here. I want to win trophies with this team, and this is a huge three points at home to get us some momentum going into the second half of the season.”
Northern Colorado kept on trying to add more to their lead and put the game out of reach early. Courtesy of Marky Hernández, Northern Colorado were able to make it 3-0. Desdunes was given space to make a run into the box with the ball at his feet and took a shot that could have been the third. However, the shot would be deflected and the ball found its way to Hernández who was just kept onsides by the center back and able to pick up his second goal of the season.
Things took a turn though after the hour mark. Substitute Owen Damm was called for a foul inside the box giving Charlotte their own penalty. Keeper Thomas Olsen was upset with the call, resulting in him receiving a yellow card. Tresor Mbuyu would step up to take the kick but it would be saved by Olsen. The assistant referee was quick to call him for leaving his line early though, resulting in a re-kick. This time captain Clay Dimick would take it, again to have it saved, and again Olsen was called for leaving his line early. Resulting in his second yellow card and seeing him out of the match.
Johan Peñaranda was then tasked with coming into the match to try and make the save to keep his sides clean sheet. Khori Bennett would be the third different taker for the Independence, this time finding the net and getting his side back into the match. “To be honest I don’t think you can (prepare yourself for that situation),” said Peñaranda. “I was switched on from the beginning of the game. It’s my job to stay ready in case something happens to the starting goalkeeper. You just have to trust your training, and I trust my training.”
But this wouldn’t be the last time Peñaranda was called upon in this match. In the 71st minute a cross came bouncing across the box for Charlotte, looking for Bennett. Bennett headed the ball on target from only five yards away from the goal, but Peñaranda was quick to punch at the ball, putting it up into the air and to be cleared by his defense.
“That first half was excellent. It’s not like it’s out of the blue, it’s been coming,“ said head coach Éamon Zayed. At home against Madison, I thought the overall performance deserved more. We started off great against Tucson, started off well enough against Fuego. I said over the last few weeks there is a result coming because our performances have been good, I thought the result matched the performance tonight.”
With the 3-1 victory, Northern Colorado moved to seventh place in the USL League One Standings. The Hailstorm sit level on points with Central Valley Fuego FC and their opponents for next weekend’s matchup, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. That match with Chattanooga will be Saturday, July 23 at CHI Memorial Stadium in Chattanooga.
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