UTICA CITY FC FALTERS IN MILWAUKEE, SUFFERS 9-7 LOSS IN FIRST MATCH OF 2024
Milwaukee, WI - Utica City FC kicked off a four-game road stretch with a game against the Milwaukee Wave–a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal. In the first meeting between the two sides this season, Milwaukee came out on top by a score of 9-7.
It was a first start of the season for Utica City FC goalkeeper Brian Wilkin, taking the place of Andrew Coughlin (unavailable due to illness). However, UCFC was boosted by the return of Gordy Gurson from injury. The game started slowly for both sides, but it was City who found the first breakthrough. Ronaldinho Diniz sprinted forward on the breakaway before his shot was saved and Franck Tayou turned home the rebound at the 3:10 mark. Tayou’s goal marked his 500th point in the MASL regular season, making him the first player to eclipse that mark.
Milwaukee found a response at the 06:28 mark, with Salvador Nunez scoring the first goal for the Wave. Steven Fernandez found another goal for Utica a minute later, but Milwaukee would equalize again through Mario Alvarez. The two teams shared 4 goals in the first 8 minutes of play. The goalkeepers settled in for the rest of the first quarter, with Wilkin and the Wave’s William Banahene making crucial saves to hold the scoreline at 2-2 until the end of the first quarter.
It took four minutes in the second until a team found the back of the net. Mohamed Ndiaye fired home a third-chance opportunity after continued offensive pressure from UCFC, giving the City a 3-2 lead. Utica would head to a power play at the 06:31 mark as a blue card was issued to Derek Huffman of Milwaukee. However, the visitors couldn’t capitalize and would head to the penalty kill for a too many men call. Milwaukee would take advantage of the man-up opportunity, with Ian Bennett tapping home a rebound after a Wilkin save to tie things up again. The Wave took their first lead of the game as Stuart Grable fired a laser into the top left corner at the 13:05 mark. The Milwaukee lead would not hold for long as Ronaldinho sprinted down the left flank and chipped home in the final minute of play in the first half. At halftime, a back-and-forth affair saw both teams head into half tied up 4-4.
Milwaukee came out firing in the second half, forcing a save out of Wilkin in the early going. The Wave regained a lead at the 1:33 mark through Javier Steinwascher and then extended it 71 seconds later with a goal from Marcio Leite to take a 6-4 lead. The home side kept up the attack, as Wilkin made a couple more saves to keep the UCFC deficit at 2. The game settled down defensively with Utica unable to convert a couple of golden opportunities near the Milwaukee goal. The two goals in the first 3 minutes of play would be all of the scoring in the third quarter, with UCFC needing a big last 15 to cut into a 2-goal Wave lead.
With work to do in the fourth, Utica got off to a dream start. Shorthanded, Utica found Nilton de Andrade in the corner and he swiveled one home just 17 seconds into the quarter. Milwaukee found an instant response with Ricardo Carvalho and then tacked another one on shortly after as Breno Oliveira found the back of the net to make it 8-5. Utica would go shorthanded again due to a blue card to Ndiaye but Ronaldinho would go forward again in a flash to score Utica’s second shorthanded goal of the contest. Utica couldn’t keep the Wave out–just as quickly as Ronaldinho scored, Ben Ramin hit back for Milwaukee to make it 9-6. At the 9:15 mark, UCFC would pull netminder Wilkin in favor of a 6th attacker. The extra attacker opportunity would lead to a goal from Keaton Woods at the 10:38 mark. Unfortunately, the Milwaukee defense would hold strong for the rest of the match, with the final score a 7-9 loss for City–the first loss of the season for Utica.
The road trip heads to Washington for the weekend as UCFC takes on the Tacoma Stars this Saturday at 10:05 pm EST. Utica returns to the Adirondack Bank Center on Sunday, January 21st as the Utica Riggies–tickets for that match are still available at ucfctickets.com.