COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Michee Ngalina had two goals and one assist, while Hadji Barry had one goal and three assists as Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC took a 4-2 victory against Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday night for their first win at new downtown home Weidner Field.
Looking to build off a draw on the road in El Paso in their last outing, the Switchbacks almost struck first in the ninth minute as Beverly Makangila sent a pass over the top that Michee Ngalina ran onto before entering the left side of the penalty area, where his shot was denied by Defiance goalkeeper Spencer Richey. The visitors took the lead in the 11th minute, however, after Azriel Gonzalez chased down a long pass into the right corner of the field, skipped past a defender along the goal line and cut back a cross that Marlon Vargas deposited into the back of the net from eight yards.
Gonzalez almost added a second for the visitors 13 minutes later as he challenged for a low cross from the left that Colorado Springs goalkeeper Sean Melvin just got a touch on to send wide of the right post. The hosts then began to turn things around, however, and Sebastian Anderson tested Richey with a good strike on the half-hour mark that was arrowing toward the right side of the net.
It would be Ngalina that brought the hosts level in the 32nd minute as his speed once again got him free of the defense. Running onto a looping ball over the top by fellow forward Hadji Barry, the Congolese forward lifted his finish over Richey and into the net for his first goal at Weidner Field. It didn’t take long for the Switchbacks to gain the lead, either, as Anderson found Barry inside the right side of the penalty area, and the Guinean forward fired a low cross through the six-yard area that was met at the back post by Deshane Beckford to give the hosts a halftime lead.
Ngalina almost struck again eight minutes into the second half as he held off a defender to claim a pass into the left side of the penalty area, only for Richey to come up with another big save. Barry then tested the Tacoma shot-stopper from a narrow angle on the left side of the penalty area on a shot that was blocked behind for a corner.
Both teams continued to create quality chances as the second half went on. Obed Vargas fired a powerful shot in the 65th minute for Tacoma from the left side of the penalty area that Melvin had to palm away before his defense cleaned up any rebound opportunity, while Barry sent a low shot to the bottom-right corner of the net from 20 yards with 13 minutes to go that was turned wide.
The hosts appeared to have put the game away with 10 minutes to go as Barry finally got his goal, shooting home into the left corner of the net after a challenge on Ngalina by a Tacoma defender had sent the ball his way, but the Defiance hit back five minutes later, capitalizing on an error by Melvin, who came off his line but couldn’t beat Alec Diaz to a ball over the top that the Puerto Rican international flicked over him and into the open net.
Ngalina’s second goal of the night sealed all three points for the hosts, however, as he fired home at the near post from the left side of the penalty area after the hosts had sent a goal kick by the Defiance quickly back up the field, capping a thrilling night of action in downtown Colorado Springs.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Hadji Barry, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Hadji Barry recorded one goal and three assists on the night – becoming the second player this season to put up such a performance – as the Switchbacks took a memorable first victory at Weidner Field.
TAC – Marlon Vargas (Azriel Gonzalez) 11’
COS – Michee Ngalina (Hadji Barry) 32’
COS – Deshane Beckford (Hadji Barry) 35’
COS – Hadji Barry (Michee Ngalina) 80’
TAC – Alec Diaz (Eric Kinzner) 85’
COS – Michee Ngalina (Hadji Barry) 89’