FRESNO, Calif. — Despite finishing the match with 10 men, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC were able to secure their fifth-straight win and move back to the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Central Valley Fuego FC.
Northern Colorado also clinched their first-ever USL League One playoff berth with a loss by One Knoxville SC earlier in the day.
“We’ll enjoy it, but it’s just one of our goals. We have other goals now that we need to concentrate on,” Hailstorm head coach Éamon Zayed said.
Hailstorm got on the board first when forward Trevor Amann won a penalty and converted it himself, becoming the first player in USL League One history to score 20 goals in a season in the eighth minute, putting his team up 1-0.
Fuego had a chance with a penalty of their own in the 28th minute but Hailstorm goalkeeper Lalo Delgado saved Ronald Cerritos’ effort from the spot. It was Delgado’s third penalty save of the season, setting a USL League One record. Delgado also posted his 10th clean sheet of the season in the win.
“Glad to get a clean sheet,” Delgado said. “That was one of our goals, but the big thing is we made club history and made it into the playoffs.”
Northern Colorado doubled their lead in first half stoppage time when midfielder Marky Hernández scored a curler from the top of the box for his fourth goal in the last six matches, meaning Hailstorm took a 2-0 advantage into halftime.
“It’s just the result of hard work, hard work pays off,” Hernández said.
While quiet from a scoring perspective, there were fireworks in the second half when Hailstorm defender Bruno Rendon received a controversial second yellow card in the 69th minute and saw Zayed sent off as well in the second half.
“Second half we showed resilience and character to dig in and get that clean sheet when Bruno got sent off,” Zayed said.
The 10-man Hailstorm squad was unbothered, seeing out the 2-0 victory and getting back to the top of the league with five matches to play.
Hailstorm will be back on the pitch at 6 p.m. Wednesday night against Forward Madison FC. A win will secure a playoff match at Future Legends Field and fans can watch the match on ESPN+.
The home of Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC, 118-acre Future Legends Complex, will feature 6,500-seat TicketSmarter Stadium, 2,500-seat Future Legends Field, multiple baseball diamonds, multi-purpose fields, an indoor sports arena, lodging, and retail; and will host guests for major sports leagues, tournaments, events and more.
More information is available at HailstormFC.com and FutureLegendsComplex.com.