A tough weekend in Eau Claire started with a close defeat to 18x26 Academy of Minneapolis and culminated with a combative and hot-tempered draw to crosstown rivals Union Eau Claire FC.
In Saturday's UPSL Division One game, the team struggled to create beyond the first half. Our opponents hunkered down and absorbed pressure early on. Our forwards found a few chances early on, but 18x26's GK stood tall to deny us. Enrique Torres, making his first start for the Boats, equally stood on his head with two point blank reflex saves.
We held slightly more possession than our opponents in the first half, but the advantage didn't translate to high quality chances. During the half, we were forced into two substitutions, replacing Dylan Burk and Luke Rosenberger with Matt Folden and Ben Zumwalt. Both teams went into the interval locked in a scoreless draw.
The second half had one goal in it, but unfortunately it wasn't for us. Unable to fully clear our lines, 18x26's left winger punished us with a brilliant strike from outside the box into the far post. Torres, try as he might, was unable to stretch far enough to tip it away. Shortly after, one quality chance came our way. AJ Mittelsteadt forced a turnover as our opponents attempted to build out, and Lukas Olson snapped a shot from just inside the post. It went agonizingly wide of the right post.
Despite a few injury breaks, a scuffle that could have resulted in a red card for an opposition player, several subs, and other factors, the referee awarded one lonely minute of extra time. We just couldn't find the final ball, and that's all she wrote for Saturday.
Sunday's Eau Claire Derby was everything you would expect out a rivalry game. Cagey, combative, tense, and so much more. In the early and latter stages of the game, it was also pretty open. Both teams had plenty of chances but neither could take them. Our best chances came in the first half, and Union had two very good chances either side of halftime.
All in all, a point earned is a point gained. That said, it's also two points dropped. Only time will tell how that affects our progression towards a fourth straight WPASL title.