With a game in hand and on the back of a bad defeat to Wolfpack one week ago, the odds of winning the WPASL were not in our favor. However, a big win away to Spartan FC in that extra game gave us belief. We still needed to win the Union ECFC in the derby on the final day, and Lobos FC had to drop points to Wolfpack.
The game started with a tribute to Ryder Woodworth. Ryder would have turned 19 years old on July 29. He tragically lost his life in August 2021. Ryder appeared on our practice squad throughout the 2021 season and committed to play at UW-Superior. At halftime, members from both teams presented Mary Woodworth a #12 shirt to commemorate Ryder.
A moment of silence for Ryder Woodworth // Photo: Christina Gordon
Tye Kreutzfeldt, starting in place of the injured Gage Espanet, played David Ripplinger in for the game's first goal. He received a pass from Elliott Solberg, beat the defender and drew out the goalkeeper, leaving an empty net for Ripp to pass into. 1-0 us, 11 minutes in.
We were very much the team in form through the first 35-40 minutes. Then, at around 40 minutes, Solberg made it 2-0. Cutting in on his weaker right foot, the teenager curled in a shot at the near post from about 20 yards out. An amazing solo effort followed with a collective catharsis from the team.
The team celebrates the goal scored by Elliott Solberg (center) // Photo: Christina Gordon
The relief was short-lived. A giveaway in the midfield and quick counterattack ended in a goal for Lu Shi Xiong and Union. 2-1 with 45 minutes to go. The game was back in the balance.
There were four key moments in the second half. The first was when Kyle Bushendorf diverted in Ripp's free kick at 51 minutes. Shortly after, Luke Rosenberger made a game saving recovery tackle to breakup a 1v1 with our goalkeeper. The sliding tackle from the forward's side while tracking back as the last man was a very risky, match-defining challenge. Luke executed it perfectly and emerged on his feet, running with the ball.
Union scored to make it 3-2 off a free kick and header from Lucas Zumwalt. An overload at the back post made overmatched the defense and made it difficult to clear our lines. Then, around 82 minutes, a harsh penalty was called on Liam Schwartz for a foul on Lu Shi Xiong. The ensuing spot kick was magnificently saved by Jon Mullally to preserve the one-goal advantage.
The last seven minutes and few minutes of stoppage time went by in what felt like an hour. We wrestled to regain the possession battle and stretch play to kill the rest of the game. Players celebrated the win, and then the news that Hayward went to Merrill and beat Lobos started circulating.
So there it is. Three straight ships. It just doesn't lose its luster.
Starters: Mullally; Klusendorf, Bushendorf Rosenberger; Walters, Hoepner, Burk, Smith; Solberg, Kreutzfeldt, Ripplinger
Subs: Goodrie, Lopez, Nelson, Nunn, Scwartz, Tepole, Thiel, Van Nelson, Xiong
Goals: 11' Ripplinger (Kreutzfeldt), 42' Solberg, 51' Bushendorf (Ripplinger); 44' Lu Shi Xiong, 79' L Zumwalt