Penn FC came home for the first time in over a month desperate for a win. It’d been a month since they tasted victory and Saturday night seemed like the perfect opportunity as they would be facing the very team that they’d last beaten in Toronto FC II. But they repeatedly faltered as they allowed TFCII to hold a 1-0 lead in the first half and then equalize 2-2 in the second. Penn FC had to play until the last second, but they finally found their winning goal in the most improbable fashion.
Also, it was Star Wars night.
Episode 1: The Canadian Menace
TFC II seemed like an easy opponent on paper as they had failed to capture a win in tweleve matches this season. But they had an impressive attacker available in Ayo Akinola, and they flexed some offensive muscle early.
Penn FC’s Dan Metzger picked up a yellow card very early one when he had to commit a professional foul to drag down a TFC II player who appeared to be on the break. There was no such chance in the 13th minute when TFC II’S Mariano Mino slipped a through ball to Akinola that put him one-on-one with Penn FC goalkeeper Romu Peiser. Mino blasted it past Peiser to put the Canadian side up 1-0.
Penn FC didn’t get a lot of offensive pressure during the first half and most of it came via Aaron Dennis getting physical with defenders to create chances. Penn FC was also able to create dangerous situations off of set pieces, but ultimately nothing came of it and they were force to return to the locker rooms down a goal.
Episode II: Attack of the Tribbett
Penn FC returned to the field with renewed energy in the second half. A halftime substitution of Harri Hawkins for Dan Metzger helped shore up the defense and that would help take the pressure off of the midfielders to defend as much. It also allowed for Penn FC Ken Tribbett to come forward on set pieces.
This small change paid off almost immediately as Penn FC won another corner (they’d finish with nine total). Toronto managed to clear but Penn FC regained possession. This allowed them to work it up the right side where Kyle Venter sent a cross into the box that appeared to be heading for Tommy Heinemann. But Tribbett was there as well and he managed to power a header in for the equalizer.
Penn FC rode the momentum off of the goal to quickly get a steal from TFCII and attack again. This meant another corner with similar result for the home side. This time it was Menjivar who curled the corner for Tribbett who headed it in from about six yeards out to put the hosts ahead 2-1. It was his 4th goal of the season, enough to lead the team. There was some controversy as the assistant referee had his flag up, but after discussion with the official, he waived it off. It appeared that a few Penn FC players were in an offside position, but they did not contact the ball on the way in.
Episode III: Revenge of the Hamilton
It appeared that the wind was out of the sails for TFCII, but they managed to pick their heads back up and look for an equalizer of their own. The key change came in the 67th minute when they brought on Malik Johnson to replace Dante Campbell. Johnson helped capitalize on a Penn FC turnover before getting the ball to Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton was given space at the top of the box and he curled a left footed shot to the far post that Peiser couldn’t reach. TFCII had equalized and if they could hold out, they’d get only their third point of the season.
Episode IV: A New Hope
Penn FC didn’t want to settle for the draw, so they made a key change themselves in the 74th minute when they brought on Jerry Ortiz to replace Miguel Jaime. Ortiz has been used as a free kick specialist in other games this season, and he immediately went to work Saturday night. Ortiz made several direct free kicks, but they were either narrowly off target or Gianluca Catalano was able to make the save.
Four minutes of stoppage time were announced with Penn FC still searching for a winner. They were nearly gifted one in the second minute of stoppage when TFC II’s Luca Occello headed a ball that Catalano barely cleared out for a corner. Late Penn FC sub Isaac Osae also made some trouble for Catalano, but he was unable to find a goal.
The final seconds of stoppage ticked away, but Catalano was carded for time wasting and the referee allowed for a few additional seconds of play. This allowed Peiser to send a long ball that Tommy Heinemann headed along for Osae in the box. But when TFC II defender Robert Boskovic came in to break up the play, the ball deflected off his upper half and he was called for a penalty on the handball. It looked like one at full speed, but replays left it less certain.
Heinemann wanted to take the penalty, but he had had a penalty saved the last time Penn FC played TFC II. Raoul Voss waived him off from the sideline to give Jerry Ortiz the chance open his account with Penn FC. The TFC II players were arguing in the box, but they finally cleared out to allow Ortiz to take the shot. Catalano dove right but was under Ortiz’s powerful shot. The third goal for Penn FC meant they took three points for the third time this season.
Episode V: The Mayfly Strikes Back
And then the bugs came.