Utica, NY - While the blue turf at the Adirondack Bank Center had been used to the black, blue, and white kits of Utica City FC, it was a change from tradition as the Utica Riggies took the field in red. The first-ever MASL one-game rebrand saw City trade out the UCFC logo for a rigatoni noodle to take on the Texas Outlaws. In a back-and-forth contest, Utica forced overtime late but lost to the visitors by a final score of 9-8.
Action picked up early in the game, as Jorge Deleon sprinted down the left side and squared a ball to Luiz Morales who passed it into the back of the net, giving Texas a 1-0 lead in the first 50 seconds. Utica stepped on the gas offensively, firing chance after chance toward the Texas goal. Outlaws goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes made 8 saves in the first quarter, holding Utica scoreless for the first 15. With the lone goal being scored in the first minute of play, the teams would head to quarter two with Utica down by 1.
Utica would head to the power play just two minutes into the second frame, as Texas had Brenden Lee called for a tripping penalty. On the ensuing power play, Taylor Walter Bond slotted a ball into the low corner–Utica’s first home power play goal of the season. One minute later, Emmanuel Belliard clipped the ball to the far post, striking the frame and sneaking in to make the score 2-1 Riggies at the 4:28 mark of the second. Defenses settled down again, and it would take a terrific strike from the Outlaws’ Sebastian Mendez to tie things up at the 9:21 mark. Utica would head to the penalty kill 70 seconds later, as Juan Alava was sent to the penalty box for tripping. On the power play, Texas would score a carbon copy of the second goal–left side, top corner, this time off of the boot of Morales. Utica found a response immediately after play returned, with Franck Tayou poking a ball home after a pass off of the walls from Ronaldinho Diniz. Tied up at 3 a piece, the horn for halftime would sound and the teams would head to the locker rooms.
Three and a half minutes into the third, Utica would take a lead through the foot of Cole Stephens, who was active in the box and found a free ball. The game settled down into a defensive affair again, until Texas found another equalizer. At the 10:22 mark, a well-worked move from back to front saw Jorge Deleon even the scores. The game would head to the fourth, all tied up again.
With the teams battling back and forth, the fourth quarter was a stark change in attack from the previous three. It started with two quick goals from Texas, as Andy Reyes and Lucas Ramalho shot Texas out to a 6-4 lead. The floodgates were wide open, and both teams took advantage. In the span of 27 seconds, the game saw 3 goals happen. The two Utica goals were scored by Nilton de Andrade, with Reyes splitting the two Riggies goals with a goal of his own for the Outlaws. With under 8 and a half minutes left in the game, Utica was down by one, 7-6. Outlaws goalkeeper Cortes would be called for a handball outside of the box, giving the Riggies a chance to tie it with a shootout opportunity. Tayou stepped up for the shootout, and his effort hit the post, leaving Utica down by one.
On the power play that followed, a ball pinballed up in front of the back post, and Bond got up above the rest of the crowd to head the ball down into the goal. At the 12:12 mark in the final quarter, it was all tied up at 7-7. Texas would respond again, as Morales capped off his hat trick with another laser from the left side. Utica would head to the extra attacker for the final minute of play, and in the final 15 seconds it would be Bond who deflected an extraordinary cross from Keaton Woods into the back of the net to tie the game and send the match to an extra period. The overtime period began with a flurry of offense for Utica. Both Geo Alves and Tayou had shots saved by Cortes. Then, at the 6:15 mark in overtime, Deleon finished his hat trick and finished the game, scoring to give Texas a 9-8 overtime victory.
While the Utica Riggies may be put aside for the rest of the 2023-2024 MASL season, Utica City FC returns to the pitch next weekend. The games begin with an away trip to Harrisburg on Friday, January 26th with kickoff at 7:35pm EST. Action continues on Sunday at home against the Kansas City Comets–tickets for that matchup are available at uticacityfc.com/tickets.