And Then There Were Four: NPSL North Matchweek Nine Recap

by on 9 July 2017

With one week left to play in the NPSL North, the two playoff spots will be fought for between four teams. All four teams have a shot at the conference championship; some with easier paths than others. VSLT was the lone team to be eliminated from playoff contention and Med City lost for just the second time this season. La Crosse had a bad week, but barring a nine-goal loss in its final game, will not equal its club-record worst average goal differential of -4.2 set in 2014.


Dakota Fusion 7, La Crosse Aris FC 2
July 5, 2017
Jim Gotta Stadium (Moorhead, Minn.)

Dakota bounced back from a home loss with a big win to bolster its playoff hopes, downing La Crosse on the back of a Jade Johnson hat trick. Isaac Kehson was the one to get things started, scoring in the fifth minute. Johnson put his first in the back of the net in the 36th minute, followed closely by George Gauld’s strike three minutes later. Dakota took a 3-0 lead into halftime; a lead they would build on just a minute after the second half began with Kehson’s second of the game. Johnson matched his teammate’s total in the 53rd minute. La Crosse finally had an answer with Derek Fuchsberger finding the net in the 66th minute. Johnson responded immediately, finishing off the hat trick a minute later. Kaden Bergman notched a consolatory goal for Aris in the 81st, but Jack Hartley put away the hosts’ seventh goal of the night just a few minutes later.


La Crosse Aris FC 2, Minnesota TwinStars 5
July 8, 2017
Viterbo Sports Complex (La Crosse, Wis.)

La Crosse suffered its second loss of the week at the hands of Minnesota TwinStars. With both teams out of playoff contention, Aris made use of all but one of its allotted substitutions. Uncharacteristically, the hosts were in the position of defending an early lead after Nigel Nielsen converted a third-minute penalty. The advantage lasted a half an hour, Barinedum Kordah’s goal pulling the Dragons back level. Karim Darbaki gave his team its first lead of the game in the 41st minute and secured the brace in the 53rd. A flurry of goals came in the final twenty minutes, the first of which was scored by Chase Wright of the TwinStars in the 72nd minute. Abdulaziz Tahir made it 5-1 in the 79th minute and Christian Fernandez reduced the lead to three goals with his 84th minute strike. The season is effectively over for La Crosse, but TwinStars can still play spoiler by taking points off of Minneapolis City on Wednesday.

Up next:
La Crosse Aris FC at VSLT FC, July 15
Minnesota TwinStars at Minneapolis City SC, July 12


Med City FC 0, Duluth 1
July 8, 2017
Rochester Regional Stadium (Rochester, Minn.)

Duluth put itself in the driver’s seat for the conference championship, securing a late, if controversial, three points on the road. Med City’s winless skid was extended to three games as it lost its chokehold on the lead in the standings. In a tense game, Med City controlled the first half and registered a few shots on goal. Duluth’s first shot on net didn’t come until the 50th minute, but Med City responded with sustained pressure of its own. The breakthrough came deep in second half stoppage time when Andrew Jenkins scored off a throw-in that the hosts claim was illegal due to the thrower’s foot crossing the sideline and onto the field of play. The goal stood and Duluth is now three points away from winning the conference.

Read Louis Garcia’s full recap.

Up next:
Med City FC vs. Minneapolis City SC, July 15
Duluth FC vs. Sioux Falls Thunder, July 15


Minneapolis City SC 3, Sioux Falls Thunder 1
July 8, 2017
Yankton Trails Park (Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Minneapolis City took another step toward the playoffs and remain in the thick of things after a comfortable 3-1 win in South Dakota. Miles Stockman-Willis put the visitors ahead with three minutes gone, finding his way past the back line to slot past the goalkeeper. The rout looked to be on in the 16th minute when Stockman-Willis put his second in the back of the net, but Sioux Falls responded well and put on some pressure of its own. Will Kidd put the Crows up 3-0 with his 52nd minute shot. The Thunder pulled one back in the 64th when Archie Maoh was played in behind the City back line and sent a rocket over the goalkeeper’s shoulder and into the ceiling of the net. The Crows were happy to defend the rest of the time and secured all three points.

Read Kyle Eliason’s full recap.

Up next:
Sioux Falls Thunder at Duluth FC, July 15
Minneapolis City SC vs. Minnesota TwinStars, July 12


Dakota Fusion 5, VSLT FC 2
July 8, 2017
Jim Gotta Stadium (Moorhead, Minn.)

Dakota continued its push for a playoff spot, eliminating VSLT from contention along the way with a dramatic late win. Jade Johnson tallied his second hat trick in as many games, starting in the third minute. Sunaj Beljulji doubled the lead in the 11th minute and the hosts were up by two within a quarter of an hour. Mark Boquin pulled one back for VSLT in the 15th minute. The score would stand there until Pedro Matias Diaz Galeano’s equalizer in the 69th minute. Fusion retook the lead just three minutes later and ran with it. VSLT allowed two stoppage time goals from Johnson as Dakota jumped back into third place but will need to rely on help from other teams to lock down a playoff spot or conference championship.

Up next:
Dakota Fusion at Minnesota TwinStars, July 15
VSLT FC vs. La Crosse Aris FC, July 15


NPSL North Standings

Club Played Won Drawn Lost GD Points Possible
Duluth 13 7 4 2 +17 25 28
Med City 13 7 4 2 +11 25 28
Dakota Fusion 13 8 0 5 +8 24 27
Minneapolis City 12 7 1 4 +16 22 28
VSLT X 13 6 2 5 +3 20 23
TwinStars X 12 4 2 6 14 20
Sioux Falls X 13 3 4 6 -2 13 16
La Crosse Aris X 13 0 1 11 -50 1 7

X = eliminated from playoff contention.
NPSL first tiebreaker is head-to-head results between the tied teams.
NPSL second tiebreaker is goal differential in the head-to-head matches

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