From the opening minute of the match, Lansing United constantly put pressure on the AFC Cleveland defense.
United midfielder, Brendan Finnerty, started the pressure in the 9th minute by hitting a shot from 25 yards out. The shot was deflected out-of-bounds for a corner kick, which was only the beginning of the amount of corners United would receive.
“You know the surprises has really been how well we have responded to changes in the lineup,” United head coach Eric Rudland said. “That’s the one thing I have been extremely impressed with with the group.”
For all the pressure that United put on the Cleveland defense, it was Cleveland that put away the first goal of the match in the 39th minute off a free kick from 25 yards out that was just left of the middle of the 18-yard-box.
Cleveland forward, Ryan Minick, stepped over the ball for the free kick and struck a bending shot towards the near post, which deflected off the crossbar and found the feet of Cleveland midfielder, Mikey Mcglaughlin, who hit it hard back into the open goal.
That first one was really unfortunate. I went for the ball to just try and cover it, but it hit the crossbar and they got fortunate that it landed to them, and the guy put a good foot on it,” United goalkeeper Zach Bennett said. “I mean it wasn’t a slow roller, he pounded it in the middle of the goal.”
United continued the pressure in the second half as United forward, Tyler Pasher, had a breakaway in the 56th minute where he slipped the ball past Cleveland goalkeeper, Spencer Semple, who was forced to come out and close Pasher down.
The shot hit off the inside of the post and was cleared by the Cleveland defense.
“We talked about tenacity at halftime being a goal down, and I thought the group came out in the second half and made the game exciting,” Rudland said.
United found the back of the net 11 minutes later, when United midfielder, Marcos Ugarte, hit a cross that accidentally found the back of the Cleveland net.
“Yeah it was pure luck, I meant to cross it and find Tim (Kreutz), but it found its way in the back of the net, so I will take it,” Ugarte said.
Pasher found himself in another good goal scoring opportunity 22 minutes later, off a through ball from Ugarte.
Pasher’s first shot was deflected back to him after Semple came out to save it and the ball found Pasher’s feet again and he buried it in the back of the net to give United a 2-1 lead.
“Well, after the fourth, fifth chance, it felt good,” Pasher said. “It took a couple, but I finally got one in, so, even if it was a bit shaky, but it went in the net. That’s all that counts.”
United could not hold on to the lead though. In the 92nd minute, Cleveland earned a throw-in in United’s defensive third.
The ball was thrown in to the middle of the 18-yard-box, which was flicked on by an AFC Cleveland player and Cleveland midfielder, Cristian Arbeloda, got onto the flicked ball inside the 6-yard-box and buried it in to the back of the net to even the score 2-2.
“Second goal, you know, really would have liked to come out with the ‘W,’ but just kind of let up in the last minute, defensive mistake,” Bennett said. “Didn’t quite markup back post well enough and the guy put it away.”
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: Lansing United