Inland Empire FC comes from a 1-0 deficit and scores 4 passed Warriors to win 4-1 to move up the UPSL Premier SoCal North standings.
On a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon at the newly built Central City Park in Fontana, IEFC plays host to 4th place Warriors. The hosts were in a mid-table position of 7th place, taking on the visitors. However, IEFC has the better form coming to the match. They got 8 pts out of their 4 undefeated games, and the last time they lost was at USA Soccer Stars back in week 3. They look to continue their streak as the season whines down with tough competition ahead. IEFC will have to travel to the famous US Open Cup cinderella team Cal FC in 3rd place and visit the more recent US Open Cup cinderella team OCFC who happen to be 2nd place. The final match for IEFC would be High Desert Elite, who are fighting relegation and the Inland Empire team are more than confident for those easy points. Basically, IEFC needs to come away with points against the Warriors before the final stretch.
Meanwhile, for the Warriors, they are a team that wins and losses big. So far, on average, they scored or allowed 3-4 goals a game and unfortunately allowed 3 in their last match at Cal FC. Their current 5 match form is L-W-T-W-L, scoring and allowing 14 goals in that timespan. With 13 points and behind Cal FC by 4 points, they need all the points they could get to fight for a playoff spot (1st and 2nd place). Basically, both teams are ready to leave it all on the line.
At 6:06 pm kickoff, in front of a crowd of three families and late-coming casuals, the match starts. From the beginning, the warriors play from out the back, thinking before moving forward with the occasional center back pinging the ball to the winger or forward; however, he hasn’t got his target more times than not.
. Then the game saw both teams with many similarities; evenly matched in the midfield, wingers making slant runs into the box and receive a lob pass, both teams have tall defenders, and both teams are vocal. To shut down this strategy of lob passes to the wingers, IEFC would calculate the bouning ball and play it safe on 1v1 by giving it back to the keeper. While Warriors would push their defenders up along the halfway line.
Finally, at the 26th minute, the Warriors draw first blood off a bad goalkeeper pass; he makes the save on the first shot, but the ricochet bounces back to the striker and bangs it home. The visiting team continues to push forward with their attackers, sometimes fighting off defensive double teams and resisting the stand tackles.
While IEFC would make 4 defensive errors, including the one that resulted in a goal by the defender. To sum up, it was an even back and forth match, but those mistakes cost IEFC a goal, which could be the difference in this tug of war game.
At 7:02 pm, the 2nd half kicks off, and within 120 seconds, a high foot by an IEFC play slaps a Warriors face square in the cheek, remarkably he gets up, and only a yellow card was issued, to which some players and spectators find controversial. Then in the 52′, IEFC gets a goal from a throw-in cross to the box, and the header crashes in, but the keeper lets it slip off his hands.
After the tie, IEFC finds themselves making lots of hard fouls. Nonetheless, at the 59′ minute, they get a second goal from the left side of the box, with a shot that deflects off a Warriors defender, and the keeper couldn’t adjust to the misdirection. After now trailing for the first time, the Warriors respond back, winning corners and free kicks.
In general, the whole second half was choppy with fouls by both teams, testing the ref’s judgment. Then in the 71′, IEFC get goal #3 off a free kick that hits the post, in which the home team recovers the loose ball, and their player sends a low slant pass to the box from the left, and the forward shoots it while falling down, and it goes in. IEFC has been more attacking than the first half, connecting primarily on the right-wing and counter-attacking. They shut down the visiting team at the final 3rd with interceptions or sliding/standing tackles.
Finally, the cherry on top for the home team just before stoppage time, IEFC gets a goal off a quick reset throw-in, the forward then drives the ball vertically from left to right on the box line. He triggers the shot low and to the left at the half-circle, misdirecting the keeper who anticipated a ball to the right. He wasn’t in a position to change the other way. The final whistle blows, and IEFC collects three points in a match of two different halves.
IEFC move up the rankings and now in 4th place with 14 points, a 4-2-2 record, and a goal difference of +2. They are 3 points behind 3rd place Cal FC, who happens to be their next opponent. Meanwhile, for the Warriors, they continue their big win or big loss streak and now on a 2 game losing streak. They fall to 5th place but still in the playoff race as they play 1st place OCFC next Sunday.