UTICA, NY - Utica City FC ended 2023 with yet another win in a 13-7 game against the Harrisburg Heat on Sunday, Dec. 31, at the Adirondack Bank Center. For the first time in franchise history, they open the first calendar leg of their season undefeated.

With the pressure high and both teams eager to score a goal, Utica would receive the first penalty of the game 1:28 in, called on Nelson Santana. At 2:04, Harrisburg would successfully score the first goal, scored by Dominic Francis off an assist by Roshawn Panton. Utica was quick to respond with Keaton Woods finding the back of the net off an assist from Mohamed Ndiaye at 2:54, making the score tied 1-1. Utica kept up their strong offenses, with another goal scored at 4:04 by Cole Stephens, making the score 2-1. Both Utica and Harrisburg would continue their attempts at another goal, but would be unsuccessful. Woods would attempt his second goal of the game at 14:55, but was unsuccessful. Frank Tayou successfully recovered the ball after Woods’ failed attempt and would find the back of the net, making the score 3-1 by the end of the first quarter, with Utica in the lead. 

Utica kept up a strong offense in the second quarter, keeping the ball close to Harrisburg’s goalie box for a majority of the quarter, but would be unsuccessful in scoring a goal for an extended period of time. Tim Goldman at exactly six minutes would find the back of the net, making the score 4-1. Logan Roberts shortly after, at seven minutes, would also find the back of the net off an assist made by Stephens, making the score 5-1. Things would calm down a bit for the remainder of the second quarter, with neither team scoring a goal and the score still sitting at 5-1. 

After the halftime break, Utica came in strong with Tayou scoring off an assist by Stephens 1:01 into the third quarter, making the score 6-1. At 1:40, the score would quickly turn to 7-1 as Diniz scored a goal off an assist by Steven Fernandez. Keeping up the scoring streak, Nilton De Andrade would score another goal for Utica at 3:41. In retaliation, Harrisburg pulled goaltender Grant Glorosio, bringing in a sixth player at 3:49. With the extra player, Harrisburg would succeed in scoring a goal, which was made by Malcolm Harris at 4:39. Harrisburg’s second goal of the game did not discourage Utica though, as Tayou scored yet another goal of the game at 5:28, bringing the score to 9-2. Even after pulling goaltender Glorosio at 5:20 and 13:10, Harrisburg would be unsuccessful in scoring another goal, finishing the third quarter with a score still of 9-2. 

Things quickly amped up in the final quarter of the game, with Robert’s scoring a goal off an assist from Tayou at 3 minutes, making the score 10-2. Nearly seconds later at 3:37, Andrade would secure his second goal of the game, adding another point to the scoreboard for Utica. Harrisburg would not accept defeat, as Joey Tavernese would find the back of the net off an assist from Francis. Utica once again was quick to answer back, as Emmanuel Belliard scored another goal and his first of his MASL career, off an assist from Goldman at five minutes, making the score 12-3. Firing back seconds later at 5:47, Utica would bring the score to 13-3 as Andrade would score another goal, off an assist from Matthew Brummet. Responding back, at 6:25 Francis would add to the pressure, scoring another goal for Harrisburg off an assist from Bradley Kerstetter, bringing the score to 13-4. Things would calm down between the two teams for a bit, until Francis was able to score another goal for Harrisburg off an assist from Harris at 9:14. At 9:46, Harrisburg would score yet another goal, scored by Panton off an assist from Danny DiPrima, with the score now sitting at 13-6. Although DiPrima was able to score a goal at the very last second of the game at 14:59, Utica still took the 13-7 win against Harrisburg. 

Utica will head to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 7:35 p.m. for a matchup against the Milwaukee Wave in their first game of the new year. Utica returns to the Adirondack Bank Center Sunday, Jan. 21, to face the Texas Outlaws at 3 PM. Tickets are available at ucfctickets.com.

Article written by Kiley Wren.