UTICA, NY - Exactly one week removed from a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Comets, Utica City FC returned to action with a home tilt against the Baltimore Blast. Utica, with two wins against Baltimore under its belt this season, would make it 3 with an 8-5 victory over the Blast.
It was the man on fire for Utica to get the scoring started. Nilton de Andrade found a ball at the 6:02 mark and fired a low effort that skimmed along the turf and into the net. The goal marked the continuation of a now 9-game point streak for de Andrade. Thirty seconds later, Baltimore would make it 1-1 with a top-left strike from Victor Parreiras. The scoring continued in quick fashion as Juan Alava came crashing down on a loose ball in front to tap home–giving UCFC a one-goal lead again at the 7:19 mark. Those three goals, all scored within 80 seconds, would be the only goals of the first, and Utica would take a 2-1 lead into the second.
The game would settle down in the second, with UCFC goalkeeper Brian Wilkin saving a lone early chance for Baltimore at the 3:19 mark. The next opportunity would come for Utica at the 9:23 mark, with Steven Fernandez receiving a perfect pass from Moh Ndiaye and clipping a ball into the Baltimore net for a 3-1 lead. Wilkin would come up big with two saves in the closing stages of the first half, preserving a two-goal lead for the home side as the teams headed in for halftime.
Six minutes into the third, Utica would add on to the lead as Franck Tayou blasted a shot to the left of the boards that found Ronaldinho Diniz waiting in the box, and it was a simple finish for Ronaldinho’s 13th goal of the season. Alava would get a blue card shortly after for kicking, and on the ensuing power play Juan Pereira would rifle a shot top left and make it a 4-2 game. Four minutes later, at the 12:33 mark in the third, Baltimore would cut into the lead again with a thunderous strike from Parreiras to make the score 4-3 heading into the final frame of action.
With the game close, UCFC needed a solid fourth quarter to pull away from Baltimore. Tayou got the scoring started at the 4:17 mark, receiving a pass from de Andrade off of the wall, driving forward and firing a ball into the net for a 5-3 scoreline. De Andrade would then score his own, getting his second goal of the game with a laser past the Baltimore keeper for 6-3. Baltimore, never out of it, would pull goalkeeper Mike Zierhoffer and get a goal from Pereira at the 8:32 mark on the extra attacker opportunity. The Blast, keeping the net empty, found Moises Gonzalez in the box to pull within one. However, the next chance that Baltimore had with an extra attacker, de Andrade stepped in the way and fired a ball into the empty net to make it 7-5. De Andrade would officially make it a haul–four goals on the afternoon–with another empty netter, giving Utica an 8-5 victory.
UCFC is off next week, then travels to Baltimore to take on the Blast on Saturday, February 17th at 6:05 pm EST. UCFC returns home on Sunday, February 18th to take on Milwaukee–tickets for that matchup are available at uticacityfc.com/tickets.