Sumner, WA. – The Sounders FC U-23 opened up their existence with an exciting win over Gonzaga University. Fans were treated to great weather, exciting soccer, and an extra time winner for the Sounders U-23. Facundo Dipasquale was without a doubt, the Man of the Match, scoring 3 goals on the day.
Both Gonzaga and Sounders U-23 lead during the Sunday afternoon match. It appeared to be headed for a draw, but over three minutes passed the 90 minute mark, Dipasquale gave the Sounders U-23 their first ever victory.
“It’s good to start out like this, because we’re trying to build something special here with the Sounders U-23’s,” Dipasquale said after the match. “We want the fans to be involved and happy too, so it’s a great result.”
Facundo Dipascuale celebrates after scoring his hat-trick (Chris Coulter, SoundersU23.com)
The match started in suprising fashion. A poor clearance between defenders and goalkeeper, and it was a two on one at the edge of the box for Gonzaga. The ball was laid across to James Matern, who took a one touch shot, low into the bottom left corner to take a 1-0 lead.
The Sounders U-23 came back with a quick response. In the 9th minute, good pressure around the box yielded a chance from a tight angle on the right side of the end line. Facundo Disquale judged his best option to be a low hard shot and he found the back corner of the net.
After the goal, the Sounders seemed to settle down and get a rhythm on the quick turf. Possession swung toward the rave green for the rest of the first half. The possession yielded a few longer range efforts from Darwin Jones, but none truly tested the Gonzaga goalkeeper. The best test for GK Keane Ellis came off of Jones’ head. A well worked cross from Cam Vickers on the right side found Jones’ head on the edge of the six yard box. Ellis tipped it over the bar.
In the 34th minute, another nice cross from Vickers generated a close call for the Sounders. After first winning the header, Mo Travis was quickest to respond but his shot towards a goal keeper free net was cleared off the line by a Gonzaga defender.
After a nice start to the match, forward Darwin Jones was replaced by Esteban Reyes. The early substitution was forced by a Jones ankle injury. The injury appears to be mild.
It looked like the Sounders would take a lead heading into halftime when Jamael Cox crossed a ball back from the left corner to Facundo Dipasquale. The Concordia University graduate headed towards goal but it was blocked away and eventually cleared. The first half ended 1-1.
The first dangerous opportunity of the 2nd half came in the 55th minute. A good combination between Jamael Cox and Cam Vickers couldn’t be turned into a shot. Still able to hold onto possession, Vickers crossed into the box for Esteban Reyes. The Reyes header was well saved.
Pressure continued to build and a Sounders U-23 goal looked immanent. The Sounders worked the ball through the midfield until a one-two passing sequence found Mark Lee on the right edge of the penalty box. Lee drove a low cross into the middle that was turned toward goal by Cam Vickers. The 2nd half Gonzaga keeper, Ryan Caballero made the save comfortably.
In the 73rd minute, only a Sounder could keep the Sounders from scoring. The ball was crossed in from the right side and second half substitute, Rory Agu, found himself on top of the ball with Esteban Reyes. The two tangled up before Agu tried to shoot. His effort was blocked by his teammate, Reyes, before Gonzaga cleared.
Finally the break-through came for the Sounders FC U-23 in the 81st minute. It took an individual effort from Facundo Dipasquale to break the deadlock. The midfielder turned his defender at the top of the box and drilled a shot into the far upper corner to give the Sounders a 2-1 lead.
Dipasquale recounted the goal, “I put the bend on it I wanted and it actually came out. I was like oh, good, and it went in.”
After the goal, Gonzaga amped up their efforts and immediately were rewarded. After a few good shots on goal, a foul was whistled in the penalty box. A penalty kick was given for a foul when two players challenged for a header, colliding near the penalty spot. Nate Pacheco stepped up for the penalty kick and finished to goalkeeper left.
A fantastic chance to grab the game winner fell to Micah Wenzel in the 89th minute. The Sounders floated in a ball to Esteban Reyes, who headed it back to the front of the net. Wenzel was running through unmarked. The midfielder reached out his boot to redirect the ball into the net but didn’t get a clean touch, and instead, it deflected wide of the goal.
In the end, it was Facundo Dipasquale’s day. The Sounder picked up the ball after a low cross was blocked in extra time. Dipasquale reacted quickly and hit a firm shot through traffic. The ball found the bottom left corner and the Sounders snatched a 3-2 victory on the back of Dipasquale’s hat trick.
“Coming in and not knowing each other well, we gave up the first goal but then we started combining,” the Man of the Match said. “Darren (Sawatzky) has talked a lot about rhythm and that’s how we got our goals.”
The Sounders FC U-23’s first home match in the PDL Regular Season is May 25 vs. Victoria Highlanders. The kickoff is at 7:30pm from Franklin Pierce HS Stadium. Tickets are available on SoundersU23.com
Sounders FC U-23 – 1, Ben Dragavon / 4, Mark Lee / 5, Dennis Sanchez / 6, Brandon Brockway (18, Balin Larson-80th min) / 7, Jamael Cox (13, Rory Agu – 68th min) / 8, Jamie Finch / 20, Darwin Jones (11, Esteban Reyes – 36th min) / 10, Mo Travis (16, Micah Wenzel – 51st min) / 12, Facundo Dipasquale / 14, Taylor Graham / 17, Cam Vickers (2, Jake Ambrozic- 85th min)
Gonzaga Bulldogs – 00, Keane Ellis (0, Ryan Caballero -45th min)/ 2, Josh Phillips / 3, Greg Carter / 4, Andrew Owenson (17, Casey Ames-45th min) / 6, James Partee (20, Reed Stuffer-74th min) / 7, Nick Hamer / 8, James Matern / 10, Erik Nielsen (18, Scott Robinson- 61st min) / 11, Nate Pacheco / 14, Clark Phillips / 22, Taylor Jackson
Cards- YC-39th, Phillips (GU)