On a crisp early fall night at Sand Creek Stadium, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC sprinted out to an early lead against Seattle Sounders 2, and then relied on their stingy defense to preserve the 2-0 victory.
The Switchbacks game plan was to start out fast and aggressive to keep S2 on their heels early, and then wear them down with the solid defending. "We had a game plan we worked on all week and we did it almost to a tee," said Switchbacks FC Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. "We defended great and got two goals and a win."
The scoring started out in the 14th minute when forward Miguel Gonzalez took a pass from Chandler Hoffman, darted down the right side, and beat S2 keeper Charlie Lyon with a strike to the far post. Gonzalez, the rookie out of Seattle University, helped lead the scoring offense this season, joining Captain Luke Vercollone as the sole teammates in the USL to reach 10 goals each.
The second goal was scored 8 minutes later off a Nate Robinson corner that was headed into the net by defender JJ Greer. The ball trickled through the legs of an S2 defender, and initially was flagged offside by the assistant ref. After Vercollone darted over to contest the call, the center official and the assistant conferred, and the goal was allowed. "We needed to penetrate their zone and move well off the ball and we did, especially on Miguel's goal," Trittschuh said. "We worked hard to slow down their scorers and we were able to do that. It is great to see what you work on in training show up in games."
Controversy occurred again in the 25th minute when S2 midfielder Darwin Jones went down on the edge of the box, and was initially awarded a penalty kick. Referee Rosendo Mendoza conferred again the assistant ref, and overruled himself and awarded S2 a free kick just outside the box. The shot was quickly turned away,
S2 kept sustained pressure for the remainder of the half, but the Switchbacks defense and goalkeeper Devala Gorrick held strong. Gorrick had two exceptional saves in the final five minutes of the half, and also had help from Gonzalez who cleared a potential goal out of danger. This season, 10 out of 14 Switchback wins has come via shut out. Last night continued that trend.
"You know it's a good defensive performance by our team if I only have to make a couple saves," keeper Devala Gorrick said. "We played well as a team. Now it's on to OKC."
Colorado Springs now travels to 2nd seed Oklahoma City Energy FC. The two times the team played both were decided by late game heroics, with OKC getting a stoppage time goal in the Switchbacks home opener to steal a win, and the Switchbacks rallying from 2 goals down to tie OKC in their regular season finale. That game was not without controversy, as the tying goal came off a PK in stoppage time.
"We played well there last time and it's against my brother (OKC forward) Dani once again," said Switchbacks forward Miguel Gonzales. "We fought hard tonight," added JJ Greer. "It felt awesome to score at home in the playoffs. Now we have to move on and get ready to face a tough OKC team."
The Switchbacks will face Oklahoma City at Taft Stadium on Sunday, Oct 4th.