By Harold C. Ford
The Flint City Bucks snatched an important 2-1 last-minute win over the South Bend (IN) Lions Football Club at Kettering University’s Atwood Stadium on Tuesday evening, a win that might propel the club through and into the post-regular season playoffs.
The winning goal was scored by Noah Jensen in the 90th minute in extra time (added time at the end of a half for time that runs off the clock earlier for injuries, substitutions, and other stoppages). Jensen’s goal was assisted by Matt Fearnley who scored the first goal of the game in the 21st minute on assists from Fernando Garcia and Harvey Slade.
Mid-season slump – Bucks hold third place lead
After a mid-season slump in which the Bucks posted a mediocre two wins and three losses over a five-game stretch, the winning goal by Jensen in extra time helped the club to maintain their hold on third place in the Great Lakes Division of the of USL2 (United States League Two).
The top three teams in the Great Lakes Division will advance to the playoffs. Currently the Bucks are holding onto third place with 20 points behind first place Kalamazoo (28 points) and Kings Hammer (21 points).
The Bucks hold a slim three-point lead over fourth place Grand Rapids (17 points) with three matches remaining in the regular season.
Three points are awarded for a win, one point for a tie, and none for a loss.
“It just might be the biggest goal of the season.” Parsons – Bucks’ director of coaching
In a post-game interview with East Village Magazine, Bucks’ coach Andy Wagstaff said the extra time goal by Jensen may have been the spark his club needed as it endeavors to defend its 2019 USL2 championship. (The 2020 regular season was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.)
“It just might be the biggest goal of the season,” judged Gary Parsons, Bucks’ director of coaching and player personnel, during a telecast of the contest.
Wagstaff noted that breaks, good and bad, are a part of the game. He referenced a booming shot by South Bends’ Abraham Dukuly that ricocheted off the Bucks goalpost in the 85th minute that could have spelled the difference in the match.
Even steven and scrappy
The June 29 match was an evenly played affair in which one side’s mistake could very well have resulted in the other side’s victory. Such a mistake may have come in the 89th minute when Flint’s Derick Broche was issued a red card by referee Nicole Green. (A red card sends a player to the bench and his team plays short-handed as a result.)
Thus, Flint’s winning goal came with the club down one player, 11 to 10, to the South Bend side (team).
The shots on goal stat reflected the evenness of the match with South Bend launching 11 shots to Flint’s 10.
South Bend’s goal came from Milo Yosef at the 56th minute, assisted by Nana Tuffour.
The match had been a scrappy affair that kept Brown and her two linesmen busy. In addition to Broche’s red card, seven more yellow cards (for serious rules infractions) were handed out—four to South Bend and three to the Bucks.
Flared tempers produced two scrums of players at the 68th and 89th minutes that featured shoving, chest-bumping, and plenty of angry words.
“This has been a very intense second half of this match,” observed Bucks’ announcer Ben Holden during the TV / CW46 telecast. “Everyone’s hot.”
“The cards are flying tonight,” added Parsons,
The next home game for the Bucks is July 10, starting at 7:30 at Atwood Stadium. The match against Oakland County (MI) Football Club could very well determine whether or not Flint will advance to the playoffs in defense of its USL2 title.
EVM Sports Beat Reporter, Harold Ford, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.