Goals scored by #56 Gabriel Obertan (62’) & #90 Khori Bennett (PK – 77’)
WINDSOR, C.O. (September 3, 2023) – The Charlotte Independence faced a tough road match against Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC, falling 4-2, on Sunday evening at Future Legends Field. The Jacks are home for the first of three games in September on Saturday, September 9 against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. First kick is set for 7:00 p.m. at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Visit charlotteindependence.com for ticket information.
After the game, Head Coach Mike Jeffries summarized his thoughts on the performance, “Terrible start, and we had to battle to recover from it. Really difficult night to concede twice immediately after getting ourselves back in the game, so it’s disappointing on those ends. Overall, from the standpoint of how we played, there’s certainly a lot of good moments and things we did well. I thought we actually showed a lot of character at the end in fighting, but at this point in the season, to make some of the mistakes we did is tough to swallow.”
The Hailstorm opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a goal by #9 Trevor Amann who was unmarked at the top of the penalty area and caught #1 Austin Pack wrongfooted with a shot across goal.
The best chance of the first half for the Independence came in the 24th minute as #12 Brad Dunwell lofted a ball near the penalty arc towards #3 Hector Acosta. He headed the ball into the path of #8 Joel Johnson, but Johnson’s shot was drilled just past the far post.
Charlotte increased the offensive pressure as the first half played on, taking more of the possession from Northern Colorado, but nothing was aimed on target.
Halftime: Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC 1, Charlotte Independence 0.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Acosta made a crucial sliding save to block a shot from #66 Noah Powder inside the penalty area.
On the other end of the pitch, #11 Tresor Mbuyu earned a free kick just outside the penalty area, and #6 Omar Ciss’ shot grazed across the top netting of the goal, just inches away from evening the score. Outside backs #7 Avionne Flanagan and Johnson tried to connect in the 55th minute with a looping cross which landed out of bounds from Flanagan looking for Johnson.
The Jacks found the much-needed goal through #56 Gabriel Obertan in the 62nd minute. Flanagan chipped the ball to Johnson inside the penalty area who passed it back to Obertan for a neat finish into the side of the goal.
The energy was quickly lost as the Hailstorm retook the lead in the 64th minute off of an own goal by Pack as he had trouble handling a shot from #22 Stefan Lukic.
“We worked so hard to get the goals we got, and we need to do better at maintaining them once we score,” #10 Miguel Ibarra commented.
Charlotte continued to battle on offense and earned a penalty kick in the 76th minute when #90 Khori Bennett was fouled. After winning the opportunity, Bennett calmly slotted his kick into the left side, sending the Hailstorm goalkeeper diving the wrong direction.
Just as quickly as the Independence tied the score, the Hailstorm retook the lead again in the 79th minute. Powder sent a blistering shot into the back of the net from outside the penalty area, making it 3-2.
“We have to make a real commitment to being strong and actually pushing the game after we get a goal, and I thought we ended up sitting back, and in those few minutes, allowed them to dictate the game,” Jeffries added.
The Jacks brought on multiple substitutions and continued to create chances on offense looking for another game-tying goal. The Independence utilized as many long throw-ins and corner kicks as possible to break through the Hailstorm defense. Northern Colorado tacked on another goal in the dying moments of stoppage time to seal the win for the hosts, 4-2.
“I think it was a bit of an unfair end after making the effort to tie the game twice, but that’s football,” Johnson shared. “I think we did our best to win, we’ll stick with that, and look forward to playing the next game at home.”
Full time: Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC 4, Charlotte Independence 2.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Charlotte Independence return home to face Chattanooga Red Wolves SC on Saturday, September 9 for Great Clips Family Soccer Weekend. First kick is set for 7:00 p.m. at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Visit charlotteindependence.com for ticket information.