Union Record First Home League Win
Dubuque, IA - On Saturday night, Union Dubuque F.C. recorded their first three points at home in club history.
A beautiful early-summer evening greeted the Union faithful for Community Soccer Night, where families from Dubuque's neighboring communities were invited to take in the match, with youth players from those towns receiving free admission.
The game kicked off in front of a rowdy crowd of about 200, who were eager to see Dubuque's team take home all three points. Early stages of the game were cagey, with both teams trying to settle in. Several early chances for both teams were well saved or sent wide, but things could have been very interesting early on. It wasn't until the 29th minute when Logan Rinderknecht latched onto a long pass over the back line of Aurora, but was brought down inside the area before he could get his shot away. Chris Rigby stepped up and coolly slotted the resulting penalty kick home, handing Union their first lead of the night.
As half time approached, Union were confident that they could maintain their advantage, but a wonderful bit of skill from an Aurora attacker saw him bring down a pass, beat a defender, and fire a shot low to the right of goalkeeper Nathen Wisbey to level the match on the stroke of halftime.
After the break, both teams looked less confident in possession as the result of the game became ever more important. With a win, Union Dubuque would remain in playoff contention for at least another three days, whereas a win for Aurora would have seen them into first place, two points ahead of RWB Adria with two games to play.
A short eight minutes after halftime, Union's Raudel Fierro made a run into the opposition's penalty area and was able to fire of a shot, which was blocked. As an Aurora defender set his feet to clear the ball, Fierro was able to get his toe to it first and the ball sailed past the goalkeeper and into the far top corner of the net to restore Union's one-goal advantage.
The lead would not last long, as Aurora again found space attacking down their left wing, leading to a low cross that was routinely scored on 63 minutes, leveling the game at two goals apiece. After the equalizer, the match dragged on and looked destined for a draw until stoppage time rolled around.
Three minutes into stoppage time, Pablo Martinez made a tackle at midfield to win the ball for Union. A quick pass forward found Kenan Malicevic, who turned and played an immaculate, cutting pass to find the run of Antonio Sanchez. Sanchez beat his defender to the byline and cut it back for Malicevic, who had made a run from midfield to find himself eight yards out from the Aurora goal, unmarked. Malicevic made no mistake and sent the crowd into rapturous delight as he smashed the ball into the back of the visitor's net with virtually the last kick of the game.
Concerning the goal and the team's effort, Malicevic said, "We have a good group of guys that work hard every day, even on days off. Ultimately, in games like this, that’s what it comes down to. How much extra effort you want to put in.
Manager Jon Denham spoke to Tim O'Neil of the Telegraph Herald after the game, saying "[This result is] huge from a confidence level. A tie wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but you could tell by how loud the place got and how excited the guys were -- they felt they were a good enough team to do that."
The win keep Union in fifth place in the UPSL Midwest - Central Division, but a game in hand over the team above means Union could pull level with 4th placed DeKalb. Dubuque travels to RWB Adria on Tuesday night before returning home to Dalzell Field on Saturday, July 14th, for AYSO Night.