In a 4-1 win against a Minnesota United Reserve team that had six professional players on its roster, Lansing United dominated from the start and stepped up defensively to earn a spot in the championship game.
“The message to our guys was, ‘Hey, to be the best, you have to beat the best,’ so let’s get it poppin’ and get it on and that’s exactly what they did in the first half,” United head coach Eric Rudland said.
After pressuring the Minnesota defense early, United found the back of the net in the 9th minute when forward Tyler Pasher found defender, Cody Archibald, on an overlapping run into Minnesota’s 18-yard box and smashed his shot into the near side of the goal into the upper 90.
United went on the attack again three minutes later and earned a corner kick in which midfielder Andrew Hill took and hit a well-paced ball into the middle of the Minnesota 18-yard box, which found the head of United defender, Ben Lamb, who put it right into the back of the net to put United up 2-0.
“Credit to the guys. We talked about what we wanted to do to start this match and the guys really came out and performed,” Rudland said. “We talked about the first 15 minutes just really trying to fly at them and see if we could put them under.”
The biggest scare for the United defense in the first half was in the 33rd minute when Minnesota midfielder, Akeel Howard, drove a shot from just inside United’s 18-yard box that beat United goalkeeper, Zach Bennett, near side and hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
United added another goal at the end of the first half when forward, Matt Brown, struck a hard shot from the top of the 18-yard box that hit off the inside of the crossbar and went in to make the game 3-0 in stoppage time of the first half.
In the second half, United did not let up with the pressure on the Minnesota defense and created a few early chances which just missed going into the back of the net.
In the 54th minute though, the 3-0 lead and the pressure put the United defense a little out of place as Howard played a through ball to forward Mac Pridham, who took a few touches and beat Bennett to his left and put the ball into the far side of goal to make it 3-1.
“It was a really good defensive effort. I thought we really played a solid game,” Bennett said. “I think we let up just a little bit after halftime, kind of hard not to go three up and we kind of had a couple breakdowns, and unfortunately one of them got in and he put a good foot on it and tucked it away in the corner. Honestly, other than a couple chances to start off the half, we really played a really solid defensive game.”
The United offense did not let up though and in the 84th minute, defender, Hunter Vandenboom, played a long ball to Pasher, who settled it down with his foot, took a few touches and struck a shot that went off the inside of the far post and in to give United a 4-1 lead to seal the victory.
United will play in the championship game on Sunday at 5 p.m. against the Fort Pitt Regiment at Archer Stadium.
“(Team owner) Jeremy (Sampson) and Dave (Ellis) have done such a good job and we really want to win it for them, and not to mention Eric, it’s his first year coaching here, obviously as well. Those three guys, we are really trying to do it for them. They put so much into this season,” Bennett said.
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: Lansing United