UTICA CITY FC FALLS ON THE ROAD TO WAVE TO OPEN SECOND ROUND, 8-11
MILWAUKEE, WI - Utica City FC traveled to Wisconsin to begin a best-of-3 series with the #1 seed Milwaukee Wave in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In a game of runs, Utica allowed double-digit goals, falling 8-11.
UCFC started off with an opportunity 12 seconds in. Running a set play directly from kickoff, Bo Jelovac found himself free and fired a shot, forcing a save from Wave goalkeeper William Banahene. Banahene stood tall again as Stefan Mijatovic launched a shot his way with 12 minutes left in the first quarter. Milwaukee would capitalize on their first chance, with Qudus Lawal dancing past a couple of Utica City defenders and firing a left-footed shot to the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 in favor of the Wave. Just 35 seconds later, Cesar Correa found himself free in the box and scored his first goal of the season to tie the game up.
The next big chance would come with 4:14 left in the first, as Mario Alvarez fired a shot to the near post for the Wave but Andrew Coughlin was able to stop the ball by pinning it to the end boards. Utica kept up the high press, and Bo Jelovac curled in a goal off of a poor touch from the Milwaukee defense to make the score 2-1 in favor of Utica. With under a minute left in the quarter, Coughlin would make a huge save off of a direct free kick to deny Milwaukee of an equalizer. The score would hold 2-1 Utica as the game entered the second quarter.
The second quarter started off with Milwaukee taking the front foot. Just 74 seconds into the period, Lawal got his second goal for the Wave, tapping in after a cross off of the end boards found him at the back post. Lawal would then turn provider, firing a pass to the back post that Alvarez deflected home at the 03:41 mark in the second quarter for a 3-2 lead. Utica would head to the power play with 8 minutes left in the period, but that didn’t stop the Wave from scoring a short-handed goal as Javier Steinwascher found himself free and chipped past Coughlin.
Once again, UCFC found a quick response as 9 seconds later as Cristhian Segura floated a ball to Gordy Gurson who stretched back and volleyed a goal in to make it 4-3 Milwaukee. The back-and-forth continued, as Wave defender Marcio Leite rifled a shot right above Coughlin for 5-3 with 5:02 left in the half. Steinwascher would grab another for the Wave, going bar down to finish off a nice passing move and push the score to 6-3 for the Wave.
UCFC would claw one back as co-captain Nate Bourdeau would finish off a cross from Somow for 6-4 with 2:40 left. Utica would find another goal on a blistering counterattack, with Gurson finishing a pass from Taylor Walter Bond to make it 6-5 with just 13 seconds left in the second. An eventful second quarter would come to a close with Utica down by one goal, but holding the momentum.
The second half started slower, with both teams being more cautious offensively. The Wave would earn a power play after a Gurson tackle sent Gordy to the box. On that power play, Derek Huffman would power in a header to make the score 7-5 with 9:38 left in the third quarter. Milwaukee would keep pressuring offensively, and Leite would put in his second of the day for 8-5 with 7:25 left in the quarter.
Utica did not back down, with Nilton de Andrade working free and hitting a one-time finish to pull one back for UCFC. The Wave would gain an opportunity on the counter, but Coughlin would come up big to save Alex Bradley’s strike. Milwaukee would gain another power play and would convert through a curling shot from Luan Oliveira to make the score 9-6 with 1:36 left in the third. That would be the score as both teams headed to the break, with 15 minutes of action left in the game.
Milwaukee came out firing in the fourth, scoring a goal off of a set piece just 17 seconds into the period. Leite rolled a ball to Huffman who drilled one to the far post to beat Coughlin for 10-6. Six minutes later, the Wave would add another as Alex Sanchez would score unassisted while driving through the UCFC defense. Taylor Walter Bond would get one back for Utica, scoring with 5:58 on the clock and making the score 11-7. Darren Toby would the final goal for UCFC on the night, making it 11-8 with 2 minutes left. That would be the final score of the game.
Game 2 of this Best-of-3 series will take place in Utica on Sunday, April 16 at 3 PM ET. If a Game 3 is needed, it will take place directly after Game 2. Tickets are available at ucfctickets.com.