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Forward falter in playoffs after strong first season

Despite a 2-0 loss to first ranked North Texas SC, Forward Madison has a lot to build on for next season

June 25, 2019 - Madison, Wisconsin, United States - Fans celebrate a goal during the Forward Madison FC vs Minnesota United FC friendly match at Breese Stevens Field.
Forward Madison fans helped lead the league in attendance as the Flamingos had a strong inaugural season.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Forward Madison’s inaugural season might have ended with a 2-0 loss on the road to North Texas SC, but the Flamingos season was anything but a disappointment.

A two-goal performance from on-loan FC Dallas starlet Ricardo Pepi doomed the ‘Gos down in Dallas, but the face that Madison even reached the playoffs in its first ever season proves the club is on a good path.

After a slow start to the season, Forward started to turn around their form in the middle of the season and crept up into a crowded table in the fight for fourth place and a spot in the playoffs. Despite dropping out of the spot after a loss to Greenville, Madison rattled off a five-game unbeaten streak that included a win at home against North Texas and a road win to secure a playoff berth against a Lansing Ignite squad that last lost June 8.

Ending hot is not a bad way to end the season.

Throughout the campaign, the Flamingos had stellar goalkeeping play. MNUFC loanee Dwayne St. Clair, Ryan Coulter and Brian Sylvestre pitched a combined eight shutouts on the season with an average of less than a goal a game on the season.

Forward Don Smart led the way for Madison in goals scored, scoring eight on the season. JC Banks pitched in five from midfield including the game winner against Lansing to clinch the playoff spot.

Forward also reached the third round of the US Open Cup, scoring 2-0 wins over Bavarian Soccer Club and then El Paso Locomotive FC before losing to USL-side St. Louis FC 3-1.

Two Forward players also picked up end of the season awards. Christian “Pato” Díaz was named to the USL League One’s All-League First Team, while Paulo Junior was named to the All-League Second Team.

Off the field, Forward Madison led USL League One in attendance, averaging 4,292 per game during the league season.