(written for goalWA by Highline team personnel)
The Highline Thunderbirds were back to their winning ways after a 3-1 victory over the Tacoma Titans. In what proved to be a very entertaining affair, the T-‐Birds were able to capitalize on their chances as well as hold strong against a talented Titan team.
The ‘Birds stuck early as has been their style all year. Having put the Tacoma backline under severe pressure in the opening minutes, Highline was rewarded in the 9th min of play. Vinny Nguyen found himself with time and space in an advanced spot just outside the Tacoma penalty area. Nguyen spotted the streaking diagonal run of Isidro Prado-‐Huerta coming in from the left flank. Vinny played a perfectly weighted reverse pass directly into Isidro’s path. Prado-‐Huerta made no mistake as he took one touch to gain control before coolly dispatching the ball past the on rushing Tacoma keeper. Highline found themselves one up inside 10 minutes again, something that is becoming a theme for the Thunderbirds this season. (NWAC Standings)
Highline continued to pressure the Tacoma team in search of a second, but was unable to break through a resolute defense and some very clever goalkeeping by Titan goalkeeper Ulysis Zepeda. Towards the final fifteen minutes Tacoma began to find their rhythm and came very close to an equalizer. A Tacoma forward found himself on the end of a very good through ball and struck a shot, which seemed destined for the bottom right corner of the Thunderbird net. Highline goalkeeper Greyson Raffensperger did very well to get down sharply to his left and parry the ball around the post for a corner and preserve the advantage for Highline.
When the second half started the teams came out and seemed very equal with a lot of the play taking place in the center of the field. There were a few half chances that fell to both teams, but nothing particularly of note. However, the T-‐Birds were able to find a way to double their lead in the 65th minute courtesy of Brandon Madsen, who has proved himself as quite the scoring threat this year. Freshman left-‐back Brandyn Bangsund, brother of Highline Alumni Stephen Bangsund, played a brilliantly threaded through ball just behind the Tacoma right center back. Madsen showed his pace as he latched on to the pass and only needed one touch to slide the ball past an advancing Zepeda.
Highline found themselves up 2-0 and the game looked to be done, but Tacoma was having absolutely none of it. Suwilanji Silozi showed some amazing individual skill, as he was able to ghost past two Highline defenders and careen in from the left flank. As Silozi tiptoed the end line and approached the goal, he squared a center pass that Michael Moore powered home from close range. Tacoma had halved the deficit and were right back in the game.
Despite Tacoma coming close a few times, it was Highline that put the result beyond doubt in the 84th minute. Freshman Kenny Sweet found himself on the left flank with time and space and swung in an absolutely sumptuous corss that found Vinny completely unmarked in the Tacoma 6 yard box. Nguyen powered a thunderous header goal bound but was denied by a truly amazing reactionary save by Ulysis. Unfortunately for Zepeda the rebound fell right to Vinny’s feet who smashed in a third goal for the T-‐Birds.
The third goal effectively put an end to the game and sent three points back to the Des Moines. This result helped the ‘Birds rebound after the very unlucky result versus Peninsula and put them in pole position for second in the Western Division. Highline will be in action again this Saturday (10/11) with a rivalry match versus Bellevue College looming. The game is scheduled to take place at Starfire Sports Complex with a start time of 2:15 pm.
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