Wolfpack drop first league game to Union Eau Claire
The Wolfpack opened up the 2023 Wisconsin Primary Amateur Soccer League season with an away trip to take on Union Eau Claire FC. Union is a team who picked up a lot of experience and filled many of the pieces they were missing to be a title competitor last year. Superior has had an opposite offseason, losing 9 players to the pre-professional level from last year's squad, and adding some high-level young talent to the roster. The difference in composure showed throughout the match, with both teams finding energy at different points throughout the match. The game kicked off fast for the Eau Claire squad, with Union controlling vast stretches of the first 30 minutes. Union opened the scoring in the 6th minute, when Sam Wells found himself in space on the right side of the pitch, beating Superior goalkeeper Riley Brennan's attempted charge out of the net to put the home team up by one. A nightmare start to Superior's league play continued when Yanni Madnravelis' shot from outside the 18 ramped off of a defender's leg and over the Brennan's head to double the lead. Superior made some substitutions and Lake Superior College's Fawaz Ajao's presence was known immediately. Ajao cut through a few defenders and found the run of Hermantown's Vince Trok, who smashed the ball into the top corner past Chacha Nacius to cut the lead down to one. A few minutes later, Ajao was brought down in the box, giving Superior their first penalty kick of the season. Lake Superior College defender Edgard Blunck stepped up and put the ball past a diving Nacius to tie the game at two a piece. The Wolfpack continued pressure until the end of the half, but could not find a way to pull ahead.
The second half again found favor for the Wolfpack, who pressed Union's backline mercilessly. The best chance of the half came from Hayward native Kaden Bergman's foot, which found former Northland College winger King Strum open in the box, but the ball was mishit and led to nothing on the scoresheet. Superior continued to push, but tides were soon about to turn. In the 63rd minute, an obvious handball inside Union's box was waved away by the head referee, and a bewildered Wolfpack squad lost their shape. Union took advantage and counterattacked fast, with Carlos Verduzco finding space and striking the ball into the Wolfpack net. The goal took the wind out of Superior's sails completely, and Union kept control of the game for the remaining 25 minutes. Riley Brennan made some spectacular saves to keep the game within one, but a shot from a wide open William Navarro, alone on the right side of the box, sealed the win for Union in the 90th minute.
4-14/Bollinger Field/WPASL League Game
Superior Wolfpack FC............................................2 0 - 2
Union Eau Claire FC...............................................2 2 - 4
First Half - UECFC - Sam Wells (Unassisted) 6', UECFC - Yanni Mandravelis (Unassisted) 12', SWFC - Vince Trok (Fawaz Ajao) 31', SWFC - Edgard Blunck (PK) 36'
Second Half - UECFC - Carlos Verduzco (Unassisted) 63', UECFC - William Navarro (Unassisted) 90'
Saves: SWFC - Riley Brennan (9 saves); UECFC - Chacha Nacius (4 saves)
LOOKING AHEAD: Superior Wolfpack FC travel to St. Louis Park, MN to take on league newcomers Homeboyz FC. The match will be at Walker Park on Sunday, May 21st, with the kickoff scheduled for 6:00 PM.