By: Matthew Will
For Fortuna Tulsa, Saturday night’s win was a little more special. FC Wichita lost 2-0 to Fortuna Tulsa who collected their first victory in franchise history.
The night started rough for FC Wichita (4-2-0), as they only traveled and dressed 13 players. On top of that, the starters walked out to see 1,127 fans, surrounding the pitch.
“It was unbelievable… this place is second to none.” Assistant coach Corey Bryant said.
As the game began, Fortuna Tulsa (1-1-1) was playing the game faster and cleaner than Wichita. The first 10 minutes of the game were tough defensively for FC Wichita, who lost possession every time they found the ball. Just three minutes in, goal keeper Jami Reichenberger made a fantastic diving save to keep the game scoreless.
In the 6th minute, Reichenberger moved out of her inner box to the right. She made the initial save, but Fortuna Tulsa’s Taylor Malham found the rebound and buried it into the empty net, giving Tulsa an early 1-0 lead.
Fortuna Tulsa kept their foot on the gas pedal, keeping possession for most of the next 10 minutes. In this time, they took their first corner kick of the game, but were unable to convert. Finally, in the 18th minute, FC Wichita had their first offensive opportunity of the game, but came up empty.
In the following five minutes, Reichenberer stopped another three Tulsa shots. FC Wichita flipped possession in the 27th minute and earned their first corner of the game. The kick went far past the box, but went off Tulsa, awarding Wichita with a second corner attempt. This attempt was much closer, as Tanna Benefiel headed a good ball towards the goal. But the header went high over the crossbar.
In the 30th minute, Tulsa was given a penalty shot due to an unintentional hand ball inside the box by Rachel VanBuskirk. Fortuna’s Parker Goins lined up to take the shot, but sent it too far left. In Tulsa’s very next drive, Yolanda Thomas found a ball inside the box, and sent it into the net, making it a 2-0 game for Fortuna.
The last 15 minutes of the half gave equal opportunities for both sides, but neither could make anything happen. Peyton Vuncze had two great chances in this time but was called offsides both times.
Bryant’s message for the team at halftime was simple.
“We can not give up the next goal.” Bryant said. “If we can put the next one on the board, we are back in this.”
From the 45th to the 62nd minutes, Fortuna Tulsa dominated possession, as FC Wichita only touched the ball in the offensive third once during this time. Reichenberger made four great saves during this time and Tulsa’s other four shots went airing over the crossbar.
Finally, in the 63rd minute, FC Wichita had a free kick chance inside the offensive half. While the ball was placed and played well, the Fortuna keeper made a good save. Two minutes, later, Wichita had a great opportunity deep in the Fortuna zone. After a nice cross, Rachel Marshall’s shot was too high and over the net.
In the 78th minute, FC Wichita had their best chance of the entire game, a free kick just outside the box. Amy Strath send a good shot at the keeper, but it was stopped. Vincze tried to get to the rebound, but the keeper beat her.
Both sides found a couple of chances through the remainder of the game, nobody capitalized. In the 88th minute, Reichenberger made one of the best saves of the year, getting a hand on a ball that was surely going in, forcing a corner.
“To have [Reichenberger] sitting behind our back four is unbelievable,” Bryant said. “She’s the best goalkeeper in the conference. Hands down.”
The loss did not help FC Wichita in the conference table. Wichita needs to play well down the final four games to stay safe atop the table. The all-time series moved to 1-0-0 in favor of Fortuna Tulsa.
The FC Wichita Women return home Saturday, July 7 at 4:30 p.m. to finish the season series with Oklahoma City FC. That game will take place at Trinity Academy in Wichita. You can purchase your tickets here.
BY THE NUMBERS
Tulsa showed they love soccer on Saturday night, bringing 1,127 fans out. In their three games, they have had an average of 1,275 fans at each game.
FC Wichita was only able to travel and dress 13 players, making it tough to keep up with the fresh legs of Fortuna Tulsa.
For the first time this season, FC Wichita was held scoreless. Wichita, an offensively strong team, struggled offensively for the first time this year.