By: Matthew Will
Following a strong 2-0 road win over rivals Oklahoma City FC, FC Wichita was ready to finish the sweep of the season series. With the whole conference looking up at them in the standings, FC Wichita was prepared to send fans home happy on Wednesday night, and Dora Gallo delivered.
FC Wichita (4-1-0) defeated Oklahoma City FC (2-2-0) on Wednesday 2-1 in one of FC Wichita’s most exciting games to date. The first half was full of opportunities but saw no results on the scoreboard.
“It’s a rivalry game.” FC Wichita Head Coach Sammy Lane said. “Those are the types of game you want to play in, and most importantly, those are the games you want to win.”
FC Wichita wasted no time getting the bench involved, subbing in Rosa Urista-Chico just four minutes into the game. The next ten minutes,Oklahoma City dominated possession, forcing FC Wichita turnovers left and right, and were rewarded with a corner kick in the ninth minute. Despite not connecting, Oklahoma City kept their foot on the gas, forcing ball towards keeper Jami Reichenberger.
The next couple minutes were Reichenberger clinic time, as she recorded four saves in a matter of seven minutes. Finally, in the 23rd minute, FC Wichita got their first real chance of the game, but Oklahoma City made easy work of a clearance.
As the half continued, both teams found success in the midfield area, but neither team could find connected passes in the offensive third. The best chance of the half came in the 38th minute when Peyton Vincze ran down a ball inside the box, forcing the keeper to make a desperation dive. Vincze grabbed the rebound but Oklahoma City cleared the ball before anything could happen.
The half saw one more corner kick from Oklahoma City, which went too far. The half ended a 0-0 draw, both teams still searching for success.
Only five minutes into the second half, FC Wichita finally got the break they were looking for, scoring on a great play by Vincze, after she beat the keeper one on one. But, just after sinking the ball into the net, the center official blew his whistle signaling offsides, keeping the game scoreless.
From this point on, FC Wichita turned the game in their favor, winning 50/50 balls, keeping possession and shutting down Oklahoma City’s attacks. Finally, in the 59th minute, the hard work paid off. Hayden Burnett sent a perfect pass to Katie Cramer on the right side of the field. Cramer beat the keeper one on one, to the low left side, breaking the tie.
Just two minutes later, Burnett and Cramer set up what appeared to be an exact replica of the play used to score. This time however, the keeper hustled out and beat Cramer to the ball.
KC got their first golden chance of the game on a free kick about 30 yards out. The kick curved well but remained too high and sailed past. In the 68th minute, the first yellow card in a FC Wichita game was awarded. Oklahoma City’s Rebekah George found the officials book after taking down a FC Wichita player hard.
FC Wichita came very close to converting on the free kick, getting three touches inside the goalie box, but came up empty-handed. The game had it’s usual back and forth action until the 75th minute, when FC Wichita committed a foul inside the box. Reichenberger was forced to face the fourth penalty kick of the season for FC Wichita opponents. Oklahoma City’s Courtney Dike fooled Reichenberger, sending the ball into the bottom right corner, knotting the game at 1-1.
In the next 15 minutes, FC Wichita had opportunity after opportunity to break the scoreless tie but could not convert on anything. In the 89th minutes, just as fans were starting to accept the result of a 1-1 draw, FC Wichita was fouled and received a free kick about 40 yards out.
Amy Strath set up, ready to send a ball into the box and give her forwards a chance. The ball was placed perfectly, ending up at the center of the goalie box. FC Wichita got the first touch but lost possession. Oklahoma City attempted to clear the ball, but the ball only made it five yards where it found the boot of Ryan Burnett. Burnett sent the ball over the row of defenders to Gallo, who threw her head back into the ball. The ball found it’s was over the Oklahoma City keeper and into the back of the net, giving FC Wichita a 2-1 lead with only minutes remaining.
“That flick back header… There’s few people who understand how to do that.” Lane said. “And [Gallo] was the only girl on the field who could score that one.”
Both sides found one or two more chances in last minute and stoppage time, but neither found the back of the net again, giving FC Wichita their third straight win.
“I’m obviously pleased with the win, keeps us on top of the table.” Lane said.
The win delivered FC Wichita three more points, keeping them atoll the conference table. Of the six points possible against Oklahoma City this season, FC Wichita took all of them. The all-time series moved to 3-1-0 in favor of FC Wichita, 1-1-0 at home.
WOMEN OF THE MATCH
Gallo delivered the game winning goal with just minutes remaining on Wednesday night. The goal was Gallo’s second of the season, she has scored in two straight matches now.
BY THE NUMBERS
Jami Reichenberger has faced a penalty kick in each of the three home games for FC Wichita this season and has not stopped one yet home.
FC Wichita sits alone at the top of the table with 12 points. With two very difficult opponents out of the way, FC Wichita can win the conference if they continue their winning ways.
For the first time this season, a yellow card has been awarded in an FC Wichita game. In the previous four games, no cards were awarded to either side.