Head coach Daryl Shore said his only “regret” this season was not having as many wins at home in Forward Madison’s inaugural season.
There were no regrets for this final home game, as Forward upset the league-leading North Texas SC 1-0 as they pushed higher up the playoff standings.
“To finally be able to reward this crowd with three points is great,” Shore said.
In the 24th minute, Forward earned a corner kick after a shot from Danny Tenorio that was just saved by North Texas goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck. On the ensuing corner, the ball stayed in the danger area, and was poked towards the net by defender Conor Tobin. Tenorio pounced on the ball and rocked the ball into the top corner to get the 1-0 advantage for Forward.
The next chance fell to defender Carter Manley. Christian Díaz’s cross fell to the right back’s feet where he shot a rocket that Zobeck was once again able to keep out. Forward found frequent success on the counter attack this game, as North Texas kept up 65 percent possession on the day.
Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre was called into duty in the 33rd minute. As NTX midfielder Arturo Rodriguez cut in from the left side, he curled a shot from the top of the box that was angling towards the top right corner. Sylvestre needed all of his 6’6” frame to reach the ball and come up with the miraculous save.
After half time, Forward came out pressing to try and put the game away, but couldn’t quite find that second goal. North Texas kept possession as the Flamingos were often tested in the final third, where they occasionally bent but didn’t break.
While Sylvestre again impressed in goal for Forward, he was not as busy as other games, which Shore felt was a testament to the backline and the team defense having a fantastic game.
“The whole team defensively did a great job,” Shore said.
It looked like North Texas broke the defense for an equalizing goal in stoppage time. Arturo Rodriguez found the ball at his feet from a cross, and passed the ball from close range into the back of the net. However, after consulting with his assistant referee, the goal was pulled back for offsides, giving the Flamingos and the Flock end new life and energy deep into the game.
Forward Madison put more breathing room between them and the fourth place playoff spot. And after splitting the series with North Texas SC — something no other team in the league has done — they’ll be feeling confident about their game heading into the playoffs, though Shore knows what must be done for any championship talk.
“We know the road goes through Dallas to get to the USL Championship,” Shore said.
Before that, Forward will travel to Arizona to take on FC Tucson on Friday.