In front of a record breaking crowd of 1,166 fans at Archer Stadium, United moved one step closer to clinching a playoff berth in the Great Lakes Conference.
The Indiana Fire possessed the ball in the early minutes of the first half, which gave them an early scoring opportunity off a free kick. Fire midfielder Thomas Schmitt converted the free kick in the seventh minute.
“It was a good free kick. I thought putting four in the wall was a good call. It’s what I would do when I haven’t seen a shooter and maybe if I knew what he was doing, I would’ve put less in the wall so I could see the shot a little better,” United goalkeeper Zach Bennett said. “I just didn’t know what he had in his repertoire, and when he hit it, I thought I had a good read on it and it kind of took a little deflection off our wall and went a little higher than I expected and it kind of just went over my upper hand.”
For the next 20 minutes, United were looking for a spark after being down a goal. In the 27th minute, United forward, Tyler Pasher, gave them that spark when he almost stole the ball from Indiana Fire goalkeeper, Eric Dick, off a back pass from his defender.
“Well, he was a bit slow,” Pasher said. “So, I said okay, I am going to take my chance at it and I did that and it kind of gave everyone a little boost.”
Off a corner kick seven minutes later in the 34th minute, Pasher delivered a well struck ball into the middle of the 18-yard box. The ball found the head of United defender, Cody Archibald, who put it right into the back of the net to tie the game 1-1.
No less than three minutes later, United found the back of the net again when midfielder Andrew Hill stole the ball from a Fire defender. Hill played a ball down the middle to Pasher who beat the Fire keeper one-on-one and found the back of the net to give United a 2-1 lead.
“You gotta rely on your players and have faith and trust in them, and I have faith and trust in Andy (Hill) who has been a great player playing with me up there, and he can really give me those through balls I need,” Pasher said.
At the beginning of the second half United midfielder James DeCosemo came on and was not in the game for long after he went in hard for a 50/50 ball in the air, which caused DeCosemo’s foot to connect with the head of Fire midfielder, Michael Reidford.
DeCosemo was shown a red card and the incident caused a bit of a scuffle amongst the players, but for the remaining 49 minutes of the game, United had to play a man down with ten men.
“Once it went to 10 and after we had the questionable red card, mentally I told myself that it’s just going to be a defensive game from here on out,” Bennett said. “There’s not a lot of options to do something offensively. Just gotta buckle down and really communicate and then just really stay focused for the whole half.”
Staying focused is what United did when much of the Fire’s pressure came in the last 18 minutes of the second half, but United were able to hold off the Fire from scoring and secure the 2-1 victory.
“We wanted to be in a spot where we could go into Sunday and feel good about our performance tonight and I think we can be build some confidence and momentum going into that match now,” United head coach Eric Rudland said.
On Sunday, United will face Detroit City F.C. at noon at DeMartin Stadium on the campus of Michigan State.A few current and former Spartans will be battling it out to determine who will make it into the Great Lakes playoffs.
“I think it’s going to be fun. Just like it was fun at their place earlier this year. I think it’s going to be a very intense match. I am really looking forward to playing on my home pitch. Looking forward to playing against my current assistant coach at MSU (Ben Pirmann),” Bennett said. “Obviously it is a lot of fun playing against all those guys and playing at that location, but the big thing is we are playing to win the conference or at least get a point and make playoffs. So I think more than anything we are really focusing on getting a result and the rest will sort itself out.”
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.