Photo courtesy of Miguel Arcaute/LIFC
LANSING, Mich. – After a four-game road trip, Lansing Ignite FC returned to Cooley Law School Stadium in front of 2,287 fans and avenged their previous two losses to Toronto FC II with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night.
"They’ve been our bogey side," LIFC Head Coach Nate Miller said after the match. "Honestly, the first home performance was a good one - it was unlucky for us. Away, it was not good. We knew we had to get the three points; it was mandatory, so the pressure was on a little bit, and we handled it well.
"Players did a marvelous job handling certain moments, certain adjustments, and I’m just really happy for them. Huge three points and a big clean sheet.”
LIFC put the pressure on Toronto early, as Kevin Coiffic had the first chance of the match after his header from a corner hit the post in the fifth minute.
The score would remain level for the first 45 minutes, due in part to the defensive performance by LIFC goalkeeper Stephan Cleveland, who blocked multiple shots en route to preserving the clean sheet on the night.
Using his speed and fancy footwork to get by defenders, Lansing forward Selso Saint-Duc would cause problems all game long down the left side of the field, and he finally broke the deadlock in the 61st minute. Alex Bruce, who had just been subbed on a minute earlier, found Saint-Duc in space, and he went untouched into the box and rifled a left-footed shot past the keeper.
"Selso is a young 19-year-old kid, who’s a top talent, and he’s learning a lot," Miller said. "You have to understand there’s a lot of change and a lot going on. Sometimes, when you dip in form, you want a player to fight back into the team, and that’s what he did. I give Selso so much credit. He’s a mature young man, and his performance today was a match-winner, and that’s why he’s here in Lansing.”
Saint-Duc’s first USL League One goal was all that was needed to give Lansing three points and push them back into playoff position.
The defensive back line, led by captain Brandon Fricke, was also tested throughout the match, but he and his teammates would not allow Toronto to get past them. Blocking shots and keeping possession of the ball kept Toronto scoreless for the first time this series.
“We wanted to come home and make a statement,” Fricke said after the match. “It starts defensively. We wanted to be clean as a team, giving up as few chances as possible, win our duels and keep possession. In the first half, we could have been better, but we made adjustments and were really strong in the second half.”
Lansing will continue their homestand on Saturday, June 22, when the team takes on Orlando City B for the first time this season at 7 p.m. ET (TICKETS).
“The team knows that we have put up some good performances at home, and we know how with we have done on the road compared to how other teams have done, we need to take care of business at home," Fricke said. "We know we are capable of it, and that’s the mindset now and for the rest of the season. Every match at home needs to be three points and a win, a shutout is just a bonus."
SELSO SAINT-DUC: Not only did he score the game-winning goal, Saint-Duc created three chances on the night and was a problem for Toronto FC II all game long working down the left wing.