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Med City FC has no 'luck" against Duluth FC

Duluth FC scored twice in the final 27 minutes and beat the No. 1-ranked team in the National Premier Soccer League, Med City FC.

Med City FC vs Dakota Fusion
Med City’s Andres Garcia controls the ball during a soccer game against Dakota Fusion on Wednesday, June 22, in Rochester. Garcia scored the lone goal in Med City FC's 2-1 loss to Duluth on Saturday, June 25. It marked the first loss of the season for the Mayhem.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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“Lady Luck” was on the wrong side.

At least as far as Med City FC coach Neil Cassidy was concerned.

If there was a team that got “lucky” Saturday, it indeed was Duluth as the top two teams in the National Premier Soccer League squared off in front of the Mayhem's largest audience of the season at Rochester Regional Stadium.

Duluth was awarded a penalty kick with 3 minutes left in regulation time, as the previously unbeaten and No. 1 NSPL ranked Mayhem were hit with a penalty in the box that they weren’t at all sure was a penalty.

Duluth forward Sam Thorton took the PK and sliced it past Med City FC goalie Iker Gonzalez. It was Thorton’s second goal of the game, the first at the 63:20 mark. Fifteen minutes before that Med City FC had taken a 1-0 lead on Andres Garcia’s eighth goal of the season.

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Austin graduate Garcia had scored off a half volley from Lucas Hart, the former Packer taking the ball off the bounce and swinging through it with his right foot and past Duluth goalie Brendan Dally.

But that penalty that came much later against the Mayhem was what hung in the air once the game was done. There wasn’t a consensus — least among the Mayhem players and coaches — if it should have been called.

“I wasn’t in position to see the penalty on us,” said Cassidy, who watched his 9-1-1 team fall from first place in the North Division of the NPSL. Duluth is now on top with a 9-0-1 mark.

“But I presume it was a penalty,” Cassidy continued. “I’ve got no complaints about the officials. It was a good game, and it’s what a good game sometimes comes down to (a penalty kick). We were on the wrong end of it this year.”

Unlike Cassidy, Med City FC veteran midfielder Lucas Hart was willing to voice a complaint.

“The decision at the end didn’t help us as a team,” Hart said. “We played well, and I thought we deserved to win. We defended really well for 90 minutes. I didn’t think it was a penalty. But that is football at the end of the day. The game opened up in the second half and (Duluth) took their chances and we didn’t.”

Med City FC began the game looking sluggish despite the contest’s implications and the sizable crowd. Duluth built a quick 4-0 advantage in shots on goal, though none of them were serious tests for Gonzalez.

But the Mayhem began to look connected offensively starting about 15 minutes into the game, as they gradually built momentum. The teams went into intermission scoreless. Garcia finally changed that 8 minutes into the second half when he scored.

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But once Thorton found the back of the net at the 63:20 mark, things turned Duluth’s way with it suddenly playing with more energy. Med City FC fought to match it.

The Mayhem never did seriously threaten after Garcia’s goal, though the Austin graduate came closest when he missed on a header off a crossing pass.

Thorton, who accounted for both of Duluth’s goals, said his team had Med City FC thoroughly scouted.

They had a plan and followed it. Now, when the teams meet again next week in Duluth, they’ll see if they can make their strategy work again — whatever it is.

Thorton isn’t talking.

“Our coaches had certain tactics they wanted us to use (against Med City FC),” Thorton said. “We knew how to exploit them. But I obviously can't conceal any of that.”

Related Topics: MED CITY FCROCHESTERSOCCER
Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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