In an exciting day two matchup between two Midwest Regional sides, Nationals Union 05 Black (MI) bested Raiders FC 2005 (IL), 2-1, to remain undefeated in group play with a 2-0-0 record.
It was a hard-fought, physical game that National Union knew it had to win to move on to the semifinals as it prepared to take on the Raiders.
“This win means everything,” said National Union 05 Black head coach Richard Nagy. “We knew the Raiders are probably the team to beat in this group. We worked hard, prepared the game plan, and tried to find the moments when we can counterattack them, and it worked out well. The defensive energy and character of the boys led to not conceding more goals. At the end we won, I think it is time to celebrate.”
It was a game with few opportunities for either team as both teams struggled to find a shot in the early going. The Raiders earned a free kick in the 21st minute for the first shot of the game that got blocked by the National Union defense.
After the early portion of play in the first half took place in the middle of the field, National Union took control late and took the one goal lead with a goal from Aleksander Markovski with an assist from Jordan Klein in the 24th minute. Jesus Torres made the save on a National Union shot with a minute to play in the first half, sending the game to halftime with the Raiders down by one goal.
A shot eight minutes into the second half was stopped by National Union goalkeeper Domenic Celestini, keeping them ahead by one score. The lead was extended to two goals for National Union when Adam Pluszczyk dribbled around his defender and found the back of the net for the score just nine into the second half of play. Marlon Rene Amaya-Amaya negated the Raiders two goal deficit in the 51st minute off a free kick to make the score, 2-1, in favor of the Michigan side.
The Raiders kept the pressure on as they continued to attack with a shot that sailed high in the final minute of play.
National Union held on to the one goal lead and secured a spot in the semifinals on Saturday.