LC Aris FC has always been a tough proposition on the road for Med City FC, and their encounter in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon proved no different, as the Mayhem waited until late to score the goals that would eventually see them claim a 3-1 victory to remain undefeated and in first place in the NPSL North Conference.
On an extremely hot and muggy afternoon, with temperatures in the high-80s, both teams struggled to find their best soccer. Med City FC opened the scoring in the 10th minute, as outside midfielder Abel Gebrekiros used his pace and skill to beat an LC Aris defender, drive across the end line and slot a ball back to an onrushing Tristan Jumeau, who buried it for a 1-0 lead. It was a lead that wouldn’t last long, however.
Just three minutes later, LC Aris FC would equalize. The referee awarded Aris a free kick in a dangerous area just a few yards outside the box and Aris midfielder Adhemar Lino Cortez bent his kick around the Med City wall and into the top corner of the net. That would be all the scoring in the first half and the teams would leave the field at halftime knotted at 1-1.
The two teams battled through the second half, with Med City FC looking to control play and LC Aris FC looking to counter-attack. Despite having several good opportunities, it wasn’t until the 77th minute that the Mayhem grabbed the eventual game winner. Aris goalkeeper Reighly Schultz couldn’t handle a Francisco Neto free kick cleanly and the ball fell to Mayhem defender Andrew Wilkinson. His shot was parried by Schultz, but Med City FC’s other center back, Man of the Match Nicholas Itopoulos, was on hand to score what turned out to be the game winning goal on the rebound and give Med City a 2-1 lead.
The Mayhem would add a third goal in the 90th minute, as Neto led an attack, driving at the Aris defense and then dishing the ball off to substitute Estiven Garcia, who scored after being on the field for only a minute. Both teams would struggle through the heat for five minutes of extra time, with the Mayhem working to play keep away from Aris as the home team pushed to change the score line.
In the end, Med City FC headed back home to Rochester with the 3-1 win. The victory was their fourth on the road this season in five attempts, with their only away blemish a 1-1 draw with Duluth FC a few weeks ago. The Mayhem will now enjoy playing four of its final five conference games at home.
“We’ve had a tough schedule the first half of the season, and we’re really pleased with how we’ve done so far,” said Med City FC general manager Frank Spaeth. “Now it’s important that we take advantage of being at home for so many of the games in the second half of the season.”
Med City FC travels to Dubuque, Iowa on Tuesday evening for a non-conference match, before welcoming Sioux Falls Thunder FC to Rochester next Saturday evening, June 15. The game will be at Rochester Community and Technical College with kickoff set for 7 PM.