Lansing United scored twice in the first 14 minutes Saturday and never looked back, advancing to the Midwest Region Finals with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota United Reserves.
“14 minutes in and we are 2-0 up, I think it really set the tone for the whole game,” defender Cody Archibald, who scored the games opening goal, said.
In the 8′ minute, Archibald took a pass from Tyler Pasher and blasted home a shot from inside the box, beating the goalkeeper in the top left corner to put United up 1-0.
“It’s pretty exciting coming out of the back to get a goal,” Archibald said. “I just put my head down and put my foot through the back of the ball.”
Less than six minutes later, defender Ben Lamb followed suit and headed home Andrew Hill’s corner to make it 2-0.
“I rose above a couple defenders and stuck it in,” Lamb said. “I don’t even know when the last time I scored. It’s been a long time coming.”
United kept the pressure on Minnesota for the rest of the half, and in first half stoppage time, they added to their lead.
Pasher set up his second goal of the night, as he played a ball into captain Matt Brown, who took a shot from the edge of the penalty area that bounced off the crossbar and over the line for a goal. Pasher’s second assist brought his season total to six, which leads the team.
That wasn’t the end of Pasher’s impressive night though. After Minnesota cut United’s lead to 3-1 with a Mac Pridham goal in the 54′ minute, Pasher put the game out of reach with one of his own in the 83′ minute.
The Canadian returned to action this weekend after missing last week’s Detroit City game, as he was on trial with MLS club, Toronto FC. He is set to return to Toronto on Tuesday to resume his trial, but made the four hour drive back to Lansing to play Saturday’s game.
“I kind of felt heavy today, but I just worked through it,” Pasher said. “I’ trying to help as much as I can to try and get (the team) as far as they can go.”
“He’s just a special player and a joy to coach,” Head Coach Eric Rudland said.
The Minnesota United Reserves had entered the game on a six game unbeaten streak, but United made sure that ended Saturday.
“It was a good test for us,” Lamb said. “They were a good team, but we just took care of them and went about our business professionally.”
“Credit to the guys, we talked about what we wanted to do to start this match and the guys just really came out and performed,” Rudland said. “The first half was probably one of our top performances so far this year.”
The big first half gave Rudland a chance to get the players on his bench some minutes and rest the starters before Sunday’s match, calling it an ideal situation.
“I thought the guys who came on played really well,” Rudland said. “I actually thought the level raised tonight when we made changes.”
Saturday’s win puts United at 9-4-2 on the season and keeps them undefeated at home, as the team is now 5-3-0 at Archer Stadium.
The focus for United now is Sunday’s title match with the Fort Pitt Regiment, a team United beat 1-0 earlier this season.
“We went up early after Matt Brown scored and then we kind of sunk in and just defended for the rest of the game,” Archibald said of the team’s previous meeting. “I think it’ll be a good game.”
Sunday’s match is set for a 5 p.m. kickoff at the East Lansing Soccer Complex.
Playing back to back days, something Lamb said he hadn’t done since he was 14 or 15 years old, can take its toll on the players, but they seemed confident they would be ready for tomorrow’s game.
“We’ve got the Sons of Ransom and our home field of supporters that will give us that extra energy we need going into the game tomorrow,” Rudland said.