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Late Letdown Leaves SAFC Frustrated

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/23/17, 12:57PM EDT


Monarchs’ tally left hosts unable to close out important victory

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

SAN ANTONIO – For a second consecutive week, San Antonio FC put itself in position to take victory.

For a second consecutive week, a late concession saw its visitors come away with a point.

While Max Lachowecki’s 86th-minute goal that earned USL Western Conference-leader Real Monarchs SLC a 2-2 draw in front of 7,642 fans at Toyota Field didn’t arrive as late as a week previous, the disappointment of leaving points on the table again was certainly present in the SAFC locker room.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said SAFC midfielder Kris Tyrpak. “No one wants to give up a goal in the last 10 minutes of the game. It’s happened twice in two weeks. It’s rough on us.

“We had a great performance for 85 minutes of the game. If we can close out that last five minutes, I think we’ll be good.”

In one of the most-anticipated games of the season so far, San Antonio set out to impose itself on the game, and did so in fine manner. Putting high pressure on the Monarchs as they tried and build in their normal manner, SAFC too the visitors out of their rhythm and won possession in positive areas of the field. One such instance led to the opening goal, as Billy Forbes stole possession on the left side in an advanced position and found an arriving Devin Vega in space at the top of the penalty area for a low finish.

“It was a good feeling,” said Vega. “Coach [Darren Powell] always tells me that if I get the ball at the top of the box I should try to shoot, and so I think that kind of stuck in my head for this game. Once I got it, I took the shot and I’m happy it went in.”

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

As quickly as San Antonio had the lead, however, it was gone as the Monarchs put together one a good attacking sequence that resulted in Chandler Hoffman being brought down as he tried to control just inside the top edge of the penalty area. Hoffman’s low finish to the right corner for his 12th goal of the season would have been tough to deny even if SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo had gone the right way.

The hosts continued to press the issue as the game entered the second half, and midway through found a second lead. A well-taken free kick by Rafa Castillo from the right found Sebastien Ibeagha at the far post, and his knock-back header through the six-yard area was met by Tyrpak for a strong finish.

“We worked on that play in training,” said Tyrpak. “It was supposed to draw a defender out and Sebastien did a great job to get the ball across. We’ve been working on set piece goals every week and finally one came for us today.”

Tyrpak’s goal appeared set to give San Antonio a valuable victory, and close the gap between SAFC and the Monarchs at the top of the Western Conference. But with four minutes to go, Lachowecki found space in the left side of the penalty area and was picked out by a good angled ball by Chase Minter to salvage a point for the visitors. The Monarchs finished the game with only two shots on goal, but they proved enough to keep the side undefeated in its last three games.

For San Antonio, which has now recorded three consecutive draws to drop behind the Swope Park Rangers into third in the West, the disappointment of the lost lead was tempered by the support the side received throughout the night by another big crowd.

“The fans’ support was huge tonight,” said Tyrpak. “It was the loudest I’ve heard them since I’ve been here, and to go against the first-place team and have the fans behind us being the loudest they could be was huge.”

With another big contest on the horizon on the road against Phoenix Rising FC, San Antonio’s players are aiming to learn from Saturday’s result, and bring back something more from the desert.

“I think we can learn from this game,” said Vega. “Playing [the Monarchs] helps us continue to prepare in this second half of the season. I think if we play the way we did tonight the rest of the season, we’ll do well.”

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