Duluth FC vs. Muskegon
Oakridge Highschool | Muskegon, MI
July 22nd, 2022 | Game #16 Current 2022: Records (W-L-T):
Duluth: 8-0-1; 4-2-0 at home/on the road
Muskegon: 4-0-1; 4-0-1 at home/on the road
Starting XI: Wynand Wessels, Martin Grzywa, Sam Thornton, Blake Perry, Felipe Arteaga, Kostyantyn Domaratskyy, Cian Gantley, Andres Solares, Jake Starling, Jessie Juarez, Brendan Dally.
2’ – Sam Thornton (DFC)
10’ – Wynand Wessels (DFC)
17’ – Vitalis Takawira Jr. (MR)
44’ – Vitalis Takawira Jr. (MR)
53’ – Theodore May (MR)
60’ – Vitalis Takawira Jr. (MR)
65’ – Vitalis Takawira Jr. (MR)
Regional semi-finals time in the NPSL and for your Bluegreens a very somber ending to what was one of the best seasons we have had in recent memory. Duluth traveled down to Mesegon this past Friday to take on the Risers for a chance at the regional championship. The boys got off to a rocking start scoring the first two goals of the game just as they did in the previous match, however, holding on to that lead became a problem as time went on. Muskegon would shrug those two scores off quite quickly and return with a barrage of five straight goals four of which came from the Risers’ star scorer Vitakis Takawira Jr. The boys kept playing their hearts out regardless of the flip of the script during the game which turned out to be a one-sided affair. They played until the final whistle blew and that’s all you can ask from the guys who put it all out on the field every game all summer long.
Duluth came out ready to play as they always do and they’re putting the pressure on the other team’s offense and even their defense early on in the game. Only two minutes into the match Sam Thornton rushes the Risers’ backup keeper off a gentle backward pass from the defender. Thornton was then able to put him in a panic, steal the ball, and had an easy tap-in with no one in his way. We looked like we were starting to take control of this game with tons of solid defense, especially by our midfielder core, that turned into some impressive takeaways. It appeared later on that we were taking a very physical approach to the game as shoving and nudging were very noticeable by the BlueGreens. The physicality started to be garnered by both sides which led to a retaliation Riser slide tackle that clips Kostyantyn Domaratskyy and seems to be hurt. Wynand Wessels spends no time at all thinking about the commotion and lines up the free kick right away. Wessels skies a huge kick over their keepers still confused was still out from the net and the ball bounces in putting Duluth up 2-0 in the first ten minutes of the game.
Duluth with an early lead but, certainly not a safe one as the Risers still had one of the more high-powered offenses in the league and they wouldn’t be beaten so easily. With a player Vitalis Takawira it’s hard not to score for long as he would start giving the Bluegreens plenty of problems. It would all start with Vitalis being rewarded a penalty kick and sending it in the net to cut the lead in half. From that point on The Risers seemed to be rallied and determined to keep putting on alot more pressure around our net than before. With the pressure, came the shots from Muskegon and they came in waves with several attempts at a time. Another shot and goal by Takawira could’ve been prevented right before the halftime horn if only Wynand Wessels could’ve finished off a defensive header. He could not so we went into halftime tied up 2-2.
The Second half was sadly all Risers as they would score within three minutes of the second half with a solid offensive possession. A nice drive at the net set up an easy little putback goal for Theo May to give them their first lead of the game. The Bluegreens would ramp up their intensity and even their physicality which was commendable but resulted in a few too many fouls. Mistakes like this had Duluth on their heels as Vitalis Takawira would put in two more in the remainder of the half against a still competing BlueGreen team that was still intense despite the score. Just the energy and intensity in themselves were not enough to make a comeback and Duluth’s season would come to an end with a final score of 5-2. Despite the score being what it was, the fellas never gave in and it was a pleasure to watch them tonight and all season long.w
Looking forward to next year, the BlueGreens will be wanting to reload and get back to the playoffs to finish off the job.
By: Ryan Tigner