COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Michee Ngalina scored a late equalizer as Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC earned a 1-1 draw against Louisville City FC, which had taken the lead through Antoine Hoppenot on Friday night in a lightning-delayed contest before 6,488 fans at Weidner Field.
Meeting for the first time in their histories, neither side was able to make attacking headway early as both sides gave away little in their own halves. The first shot of the game didn’t arrive until the 18th minute when LouCity’s Kyle Greig was well off target with a finish, but the guests got the first good look off a corner kick from the left that sailed to the back post where Brian Ownby initially misjudged a header but was able to get a shot off that produced a good save by Switchbacks goalkeeper Abe Rodriguez.
Ownby snapped off another effort soon after from outside the penalty area that skipped once before being held by Rodriguez before the Switchbacks had their first good look 10 minutes before halftime when Deshane Beckford fired a shot from outside the top-left edge of the penalty area that forced a save from LouCity goalkeeper Chris Hubbard. The hosts went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half in the 43rd minute, though, as Hadji Barry sent a long pass from his own half to the right flank for Ngalina, who forced his marker to retreat as he drove into the penalty area but rang the outside of the right post with his shot.
Greig had the first chance of the second half, too, but saw his shot blocked wide by Colorado Springs’ Sebastian Anderson. LouCity went close again in the 54th minute after holding possession in the attacking third after a corner that saw Wesley Charpie’s cross to the back post from the left be headed back across goal by Sean Totsch before Patrick McMahon dove to head goalward, only to see his finish slide wide of the left post.
The breakthrough came for the visitors with 16 minutes to go as after the Switchbacks had cleared a cross from the right, Jonathan Gomez controlled possession and quickly eluded a pair of defenders in the left channel. Gomez then played a quick give and go with Jorge Gonzalez that released the 17-year-old into the left side of the penalty area where he delivered a low cross that Hoppenot tucked home from inside the six-yard area for his first goal of the season.
Having hit the woodwork late in the first half, however, Ngalina produced an equalizer with three minutes to go as he received a pass by Matt Mahoney 35 yards from goal in the right channel, quickly turned to run into space at the defense and after cutting onto his left foot at the top of the penalty area fired low into the right corner of the net.
Both teams tried to find a late winner as Barry fired a long-range effort that sailed over for the hosts before LouCity’s Charpie had a header saved by Rodriguez after a short corner on the right was delivered into the area by Niall McCabe, but honors ended even after a tense meeting between the postseason contenders.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Jonathan Gomez, Louisville City FC – Gomez produced a fine piece of play to set up Louisville’s goal and had a good two-way game overall, completing 30 of 38 passes and three key passes while completing 3 of 3 dribbles and making three interceptions defensively.
LOU – Antoine Hoppenot (Jonathan Gomez) 74’
COS – Michee Ngalina (Matt Mahoney) 87’