Game 4 – The last game of the group stage showcased the two top teams in the group, Santa Fe Wanderers (SFW) and Sunflower State FC (SSFC).
After SFW’s initial 2-1 loss to SSFC, the game kicked off with high intensity. SFW looked to get ahead early with some aggressive and direct play. The first half was filled with fouls from both sides that led to disrupted play. The game had the feel of a championship, with both teams pressing and recovering quickly on any mistake.
In the 25th minute SSFC showed how deadly they are on the break. A through ball to player-manager Nick McDonald allowed him to cut in from the right wing, beat a defender at the corner of the keeper’s box and shoot the ball on-target, but the SFW’s goalkeeper made an excellent, diving save to keep the score level.
In the 27’ , a clearance by the SFW defense could not make it past Carson Wells, whose headed ball put McDonald in behind the defense, who shouldered off the defender to get a sliding shot off and break the deadlock.
The rest of the first half continued with SSFC forced to defend against the motivated SFW side. The whistle blew and both sides went into half time without any change in the scoreline.
Halftime. SSFC 1 – 0 SFW.
The second half started off more calmly. Both sides played with more poise, trying to find an opening in the others’ defense. There were a few opportunities for both sides, but the majority of the play happened in the SFW’s half of the field. Right before the second water break, SFW moved quickly to get an opportunity to forward Dominic Harrington in the 65’, but his shot flew over the crossbar.
After the break, the momentum stayed with SFW. In the 71’, SFW took a short corner and SSFC was late to pressure, leading to a shot that rebounded and found the feet of a SFW forward,who then turned and slotted it past SSFC GK Sam Glass.
SSFC 1 – 1 SFW.
The final nine minutes of play saw SSFC continue to weather the storm. The game ended 1-1 and Sunflower State advanced to the knockout stages, maintaining their undefeated run.
Full-time. SSFC 1 – 1 SFW.
Author: Salvator Sesti