Photo courtesy of Miguel Arcaute/LIFC
LANSING, Mich. – In front of 2,149 at Cooley Law School Stadium, Lansing Ignite FC turned in a fantastic attacking performance en route to a 2-2 tie against North Texas SC on Saturday. LIFC is the first USL league One team to earn a point against North Texas SC, which sits first in the league standings, as the visiting side entered the match with a 5-0-0 record.
After waves and waves of attacks, Rafa Menztingen and Alex Bruce finally broke through for the home side. However, North Texas came back late with goals from Ricardo Pepi and David Rodriguez to level the scoreline.
"I think we’re on the right track," Mentzingen said after the match. "We just got to make sure we’re sharp 90 minutes. I think we had a good game, 75th minute, but this game’s played in 90 minutes. If you don’t play 90 minutes focused, finish your chances, what happened today can happen again."
North Texas SC got the ball rolling in the fourth minute with its first shot on goal by Tanner Tessmann. This was the first of many attempts by North Texas SC in the first half, but LIFC goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland’s strong performance kept the match scoreless heading into the half.
LIFC had a goal-scoring opportunity in the 31st minute with a breakaway for Steeve Saint-Duc but North Texas goalkeeper Carlos Avilez blocked the shot to prevent LIFC's best chance in the first 45 minutes.
In the 54th minute, Rafa Mentzingen scored LIFC’s first goal with an assist from Xavier Gomez. Eleven minutes later, Marshall Hollingsworth made a great play, throwing the ball in quickly to Alex Bruce, who scored LIFC’s second goal.
The match was a near shutout for Lansing until it made a surprising comeback in the last 10 minutes of play. Pepi started the comeback, scoring the club's first goal in the 83rd minute. Four minutes later, Rodriguez added the final tally of the night.
“I’m disappointed, the guys are gutted, but obviously we’ve shown that we can beat the top team in the league, and we have a lot of games to rectify," LIFC Head Coach Nate Miller said after the match. "They're a team that really wants to build, and we turned them over so many times in their half, and the counter-pressing was great, and the effort from the guys was magnificent. So, I think that there’s a lot to take from there. We have to be big-time players, a big-time team; we need to see that out."
The draw, as well as results elsewhere across the country, brings LIFC to fifth place in the league standings. Now, 2-3-3 on the year, LIFC will prepare for a road match against South Georgia Tormenta FC on May 25.
RAFA MENTZINGEN: The attacker was the spark LIFC needed off the bench, scoring the first goal of the match and creating numerous scoring opportunities.