Written by Tyler Whitesides – Pictures by Destiny Fernandez
On an evening that felt like a Denver win was destined, the boys in green trotted out onto the pitch with a fair amount of confidence and vigor. The boys had a meeting on the pitch following a few stretches and a nice warm-up led by Joel Miller. Luke had a few choice words for the club in this meeting. He spoke of the quality of the Blizzard; that they were a dominant side and were not to be taken lightly. Everyone could tell that this was a game that Luke wanted desperately to win, not only for the club, but also for the confidence of this team going forward. Luke went over the tactical details, including the Blizzard’s desire to push the tempo and their ability and prowess in indoor. FC Denver is always a confident side, and rightfully so. However, receiving a speech like this made the group think about how they were going to be able to take on a quality side like the Blizzard.
During the first period, it was plain as day to see that not only was Luke correct in his assessment of the opposition, but he may have underplayed it a touch. The Blizzard were crisp, smooth, and made indoor soccer look simple. The weird thing about the first period is that there wasn’t one player that stood out from their squad; they played like a team. Within five minutes the Blizzard got a free kick, which was incorrectly placed at the top of the half-circle, instead of at the line. While that was a point of contention, the referee did not bother to check the rulebook, so the line was not used. That free kick by the Blizzard gave them a 1-0 lead, mostly due to the proximity of kick. It is fairly difficult to stop a ball that is coming from 10 yards out at 35-50 MPH. At the end of the first quarter, the Blizzard were up 2-0 and the game was getting very physical, as it should. Grant Lundberg pulled one back within 10 minutes into the second quarter with a fantastic strike wherein he turned the defender in a great individual effort and finish. Immediately after Grant’s goal, the Blizzard came back with another set-piece goal. With the Blizzard up 3-1, FC Denver began to close down early and it put the Blizzard under pressure and seemed to work, but it came back to haunt them when Blizzard scored on a slotted goal. Ryan McAleer got one back with a ton of effort, which is becoming his modus operandi this season.
FC Denver were down 4-2 at the half, yet were still confident about what the game had in store for them. The confidence began to dwindle, however, as the Blizzard scored three minutes into the second half. Denver really needed that goal to re-establish their position on the field, but were left wondering how an opposing player slipped goal-side for a volley on a set piece. With a 5-2 lead, the Blizzard looked the more confident side. Hope did not leave Denver, though; as they knew that the deficit was not insurmountable. But as the third quarter went on, the Blizzard wore down Denver’s defense and began exposing weaknesses on set pieces and taking advantage of their strengths in the same realm. Before the buzzer that signaled the end of the third, Denver had given up two more goals in the quarter to be down 7-2 going into the final quarter. McAleer made a point to the team that he wasn’t giving up when he put his second of the match away. This set the tone for what ended up being a very nice quarter for FC Denver. Within six minutes, FC Denver scored two more, another one from Lundberg, and another from McAleer making him the Hat-trick Hero and this guy’s MOTM. With the final whistle approaching, it was obvious that Denver could not pull back the three they needed. The final whistle blew and the score ended at 8-5. After a very impressive final quarter, there weren’t many who were down on the team. There were a lot of positives to be taken: McAleer had another hat trick, Lundberg was impressive again, and the boys fought hard and did not give up, nor did they hang their heads after the loss.
There is no rest for the boys in green, as they take on Oskar Blues FC on Friday @ 7:05 PM in Longmont.