Matthews (N.C.) — After nearly an hour and a half weather delay, the Independence and St. Louis F.C. kicked off. The Jacks were going for a season sweep of St. Louis as the rain and lighting cleared. Consider the sweep complete after a record shattering night!
In the Independence’s record fifth straight win, Jorge Herrera recorded the first hat trick in Independence team history. Herrera started things off with his first goal of the night in the 14th minute on a ball that was bouncing around in the box. After a close chance in the 26th minute by Enzo Martinez, Herrera scored for the second time during the 30th minute on a header. As the half was nearing, the Independence created a strong build up, leading to a Martinez strike in the 39th minute to create a 3-0 advantage. The Independence took the three-goal lead into half.
The second half started off with a yellow card in the 46th and 50th minute for Martinez, and Jun Marques Davidson, respectively. St. Louis F.C. got one back in the 57th minute, but three minutes later a penalty kick was awarded to the Independence after Callum Ross was taken down in the box. Herrera lined up to take the PK and stuck it confidently into the right side of the net for his first career hat trick, and first in team history. With a 4-1 lead, the Independence weren’t done yet. After a few strong chances and a St. Louis goal called off due to offside, Bilal Duckett score the fifth and final goal of the night in the 79th minute. As the game wore down, a couple cards were handed out. In the 84th minute, Lewis Hilton was shown a yellow, and St. Louis’ Emir Alihidivoc was sent off with a red card.
“I am very happy and I feel very, very, blessed tonight that I did score three goals and I mean a big win for us tonight.” Herrera stated about scoring his first hat trick in 19 seasons. When asked about Herrera’s hat trick, Martinez claimed, “We can’t think of anyone that deserves it more than that guy to make history. Everyone was very happy for him.” As a whole, Head Coach Mike Jeffries was pleased with what he saw. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence. I think what we’ve excelled at is, that our ability on the ball has been really sharp. We move the ball well. Our guys are in tune with each other.”
As for Herrera’s last hat trick? “I was in the youth program back in Columbia.”