UPSL Home Opener Brings Excitement, Sorrow
Dubuque, IA - On another bleak Saturday evening, Union Dubuque F.C. took the field against UPSL opposition for the first time at Dalzell Field this season. Opponents on the day were DeKalb County United FC, another new community-oriented club in the UPSL Midwest - Central Division. Going into the game, DeKalb were just ahead of Union Dubuque F.C. on goal differential, so the game was always sure to be a close one.
The first half kicked off and Union Dubuque controlled the game well. Several early half-chances went untaken by the Dubuque squad, who were wearing white so as not to conflict with DeKalb's black away kits.
In the 42nd minute, some quick thinking from several Union Dubuque players gave the home side the first goal of the game. A free kick just inside the DeKalb half was taken quickly by Chris Rigby, who played the ball shortly to left back Bradan Allen. Allen spotted the dangerous central run of Alex Hererra, who was the captain on the night. Hererra picked up Allen's pass in space and drove 15 yards forward before unleashing a shot from 30 yards. The shot deflected off of a DeKalb defender and sent the goalkeeper in the wrong direction as the ball flew into the back of the net.
Shortly after the goal, Dubuque had a chance to double their lead when a free kick was whipped into the box, but Logan Rinderknecht's headed effort went just wide of the near post.
After halftime, DeKalb was able to control the ball more frequently and had several chances. Just before the hour mark, the visitors took a quick free kick down the left wing. The DeKalb attacker went past a Union defender, before putting in a cross from a low angle. The cross deflected off of Union defender Anthony Berardi, leaving goalkeeper Nathan Wisbey no chance to save at his near post, and the visitors were level.
Just 8 minutes later, a Dekalb attacker was judged to have been fouled inside the Union penalty area, and the penalty kick was converted to overturn DeKalb's first-half deficit into 1-2 second half lead.
With 13 minutes left to play, inclement weather delayed the game. Fans headed into the main building of Dubuque Senior High School, while teams returned to the locker rooms to prepare for the final minutes of the game, which would be played, no matter how long the delay went.
After almost an hour, the teams returned to the field and play resumed. In the 85th minute, a combination by Union midfielders Alex Herrera and Chris Rigby put left back Bradan Allen through on the left side of the DeKalb penalty area. Allen unleashed a left-footed shot across goal the flew past the DeKalb goalkeeper and into the far side of the goal. The Union team and fans erupted in celebration at the equalizer, sure that the points would be shared.
However, it wasn't meant to be. As the game entered stoppage time, DeKalb took a long throw-in from the right flank. Several players went up to contest the ball in the air, but all of them missed it. Caught off guard, Union goalkeeper Nathan Wisbey scrambled to get a touch, but deflected the ball into his own net, thus restoring DeKalb's 1 goal lead. In the rush to equalize yet again, the entire Union defense was caught on the break and DeKalb scored on empty net as the final whistle blew to win 2-4.