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Kickin' Rocks: Boats Down Granite City in UPSL Debut

The weather couldn't have been any better for our first match in the UPSL. Well, except for the wind. The wind could've behaved. Can't always get what you want though.

Photo: Christina Gordon

We started the game applying pressure and making their backline and goalkeeper uncomfortable. Our CBs pounced on any attempt to play over our midfield, so we were able to keep recycling the ball into the final third. It was only a matter of time before we broke the game open.

Our boys opened the scoring early in the first half through UW-Eau Claire forward AJ Mittelsteadt. Cutting onto his right, he finessed a curler along the turf into far side netting. The wind may have helped. No more than five minutes later, John Wilke drove into the box and got scythed down to earn a penalty kick. David Ripplinger reopened his UPSL scoring record by dispatching the spot kick into the lower left corner.

Photo: Christina Gordon

Just like that, it's 2-0 and the Boats were firmly in control. It could've been three, but the post came to Granite City's defense after a ferocious volley off of Ripplinger's foot smacked the woodwork. Half time came and went, and it was our opponents that came out quickest after the interval. They scored their first of the game after pinning us in the box. The wind definitely helped their press. However, their momentum didn't last long. Ripplinger did what he does and scored his second goal of the game after making light work of their GK.

About 25 minutes from time, it was AJ's turn to notch his brace. Ripp latched onto a smart ball played through into space by Matt Thiel, took his defender to the cleaners, and unselfishly squared for Mittelsteadt to finish at the back post.

The scoring wasn't done there as GCFC pulled another one back after a failed clearance on a corner kick. We shored up the back line in response, throwing Peter Cullen on for his UPSL debut with about 20 minutes left. Our opponents hardly threatened after his introduction.

We had one last sub left in us today in the form of Liam Schwartz making his UPSL debut as well, coming on for man-of-the-match Ripplinger. Time slowly ticked off the clock, and about two minutes into stoppage time, the ref blew for full time.

We begin as we mean to go on, and this was a smart and fast start from the boys in light blue. We have a two week break before we travel back to Minnesota for a date with Deportivo U2 FC of Minneapolis. That game is scheduled for 4 PM on Sunday, May 14.

Photo: Christina Gordon


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