St. Louis FC got the result it needed Sunday night, coming away with a 3-2 victory over Hartford Athletic in front of a crowd of 4,068 at Soccer Park in Fenton.
The victory helped STLFC improve to 7-9-8; the team had gone 1-8-4 over its last 13 United Soccer League Championship matches. Hartford Athletic (5-18-4) defeated STLFC 2-1 on June 8 in Connecticut.
“Just delighted we got the three points,” STLFC coach Anthony Pulis said. “At this stage of the season, we have to find ways to win games of soccer. And we did that tonight. I thought we started well, did a lot of good things. Went a goal up and probably should’ve been two or three up. Then gave away another really poor goal....
“But the guys responded really, really well.... There were elements of the game that we could’ve managed better and we didn’t make life easy for ourselves, conceding the second goal, but all in all, it was a deserved victory.”
STLFC plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Ottawa Fury FC (10-5-9) and 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Nashville SC (15-6-6).
Hartford goalkeeper Cody Cropper came up with a diving stop on a blast from STLFC’s Russell Cicerone for a corner in the 16th minute. In that same minute, after receiving a pass from Collin Fernandez, STLFC’s Kadeem Dacres put the home side on top 1-0 with a blast from well outside of the penalty area.
“We’ve been through a rough patch, but we have some resilient guys in this locker room,” Dacres said after scoring his fourth goal of the season. “It’s been a rough patch for me and for the whole team. It was good to see the ball hit the back of the net and hopefully there are more of those to come.
“The minute I hit it, it felt good.”
Dacres had another quality chance in the 20th minute, but Cropper managed to tip the shot wide.
The visiting team pulled even in the 29th minute with an own goal. On a long ball down the middle for Hartford’s Alex Dixon between STLFC central defenders Sam Fink and Phanuel Kavita, Fink’s attempt to clear the ball inadvertently went past goalkeeper Tomas Gomez and found the corner of the STLFC net to even the score at 1-1.
In the 34th minute, defender Matt Bahner played a ball to space for Cicerone, but Hartford keeper Cropper came strong off his line to make the stop.
The home team went back up 2-1 in the 38th minute when Kyle Greig got behind the Hartford defense on the right side and scored on a low shot that went under Cropper and into the far corner.
Early in the second half, the visitors created a nice chance as Danny Barrera’s cross was headed by the far post by teammate Wojciech Wojcik.
Three minutes later, after getting a pass from Collin Fernandez, STLFC’s Cicerone made a nice move to cut to the middle and took a low shot that was controlled by Cropper.
In the 62nd minute, Dacres received the ball at the edge of the box, made a quick move and fired wide past the far post.
The home team stretched its lead to 3-1 with a Greig goal in the 65th minute. The goal was the result of some extended pressure created by STLFC. The ball eventually came to Bahner, whose ball across the goal mouth was redirected into the net by Greig, who leads the team with seven goals in league play.
“We wanted to kickstart the week with a good result and we were able to do that tonight,” Greig said. “The first goal, one of the things we’ve talked about all week was being on the front foot. We got a turnover and I was able to get it on frame with a lot of power and it slipped through.
“Second one, we were able to create some good pressure. ‘Bahnes’ got on the end of it, and I was able to get into position and help it into the goal. Hopefully this can get us going and can help us finis the season strong.”
Greig continued: “I work hard to put myself in the right positions and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately, tonight it went my way. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself; as long as you’re doing the little things and trying to stay on the front foot, hopefully it’ll eventually go your way.”
Hartford cut the margin to 3-2 as former STLFC striker Jose Angulo scored less than an minute after coming off the Hartford bench, knocking in a pass from Alex Dixon in the 69th minute for the 3-2 final.
Angulo was red-carded at the end of the match.