Photo courtesy Nick Tre. Smith / Swope Park Rangers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In truth, Swope Park Rangers forward Kris Tyrpak didn’t think he’d caught the shot that well.
“To be honest I didn’t think it was going in after I hit it,” Tyrpak said following the game. “I didn’t think it came off my foot well, and when I looked up it just kept going and kept rising and rising, I was like maybe it’s got a chance, and then it went in. I was like ‘I can’t believe it.’”
So much for first instincts. A new contender for the USL’s Goal of the Season highlighted another big win for the Rangers on Saturday night as they took a 3-0 victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Children’s Mercy Victory Field, and moved to 39 points, four points clear of the teams in ninth and below in the USL Western Conference.
Facing a Roughnecks side that had already been eliminated from playoff contention, but that had put a wrench in Real Monarchs SLC’s playoff hopes last weekend, the Rangers got off to an ideal start when Christian Duke chipped home a close-range finish from Dane Kelly’s low cross from the left in just the third minute. Swope Park continued to push forward in hopes of putting the game away early, only to be denied by Roughnecks goalkeeper Jake Feener. There was little Tulsa’s goalkeeper could do to deny Tyrpak’s strike in the 32nd minute, however, as it picked out the top-left corner of the net from 30 yards.
“I think the first half we came out with a very professional mentality,” said Tyrpak. “Coach told us that we needed to be on our game, because this is the most crucial game of the season for us so far and I think the team came out and responded very well to that. I mean we went up 3-0 pretty quickly, the rest of the game you just have to fight to keep that clean sheet, keep the momentum going into the next game.”
A third goal by Kelly before the halftime break effectively wrapped up the victory for the hosts, although the second half saw the game break down into a back-and-forth as both teams continued to push forward in the search for goals.
“I’m very happy with the first half,” said Swope Park Coach Marc Dos Santos. “I think we totally dominated and was very good in every aspect of the game. Not that we didn’t play good in second half. I think the second half was a game where we continued controlling the game but I think that every time we got to the last third, we were a little bit individual.”
With three games to go, and five points needed to claim a place in the playoffs, the Rangers want to carry the momentum of their win forward into another big game next Sunday against OKC Energy FC.
“This was our last home game for a while,” Tyrpak said. “We’ve got two away games, then another home game, so we wanted to build some momentum going into those away games and I think we did that tonight and hopefully we can build off that.”