Baldin’s stoppage-time goal rescues point against Whitecaps 2

June 3rd, 2015 | by Sean Walker
Real Monarchs forward Max Rauhofer fights off a Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 defender in the second half of the Monarchs' 2-2 draw Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Photo: Rob Gray/Utah Sporting News)

Real Monarchs forward Max Rauhofer fights off a Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 defender in the second half of the Monarchs’ 2-2 draw Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Photo: Rob Gray/Monarchs Media)

Real Monarchs and Vancouver Whitecaps 2 played through a 1-0 Whitecaps advantage in the opening 45 minutes of their match Wednesday, and both teams combined for only three shots.

After the halftime break, the game changed.

Lucas Baldin’s sliding tap-in for goal in the waning moments of stoppage time helped lift Real Monarchs SLC to a 2-2 home draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, 2-2 in front of a franchise-record 3,012 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium in the club’s only home game in June.

“The fact that those guys brought it until the last minute, and the fight we had, I give them all the credit,” Baldin said after the match. “I was lucky to score the goal. But I give (my teammates) all the credit.”

Baldin’s goal, which finished off a cross from the right side of the box RSL loanee Sebastian ‘Bofo’ Saucedo, rescued a point for the Monarchs about three minutes into the four-minute stoppage-time period.

The Whitecaps were coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in their USL season, including a win over the Monarchs two weeks ago at BC’s Thunderbird Stadium. But Baldin’s heroics, sparked a series of passes between Saucedo and Alec Sundly, helped the struggling Real Salt Lake affiliate capture a point in its lone home match of the month.

“We saw some tired legs in the first half, but the guys fought back,” Monarchs coach Freddy Juarez said. “Max had two great opportunities that should’ve been goals, but credit to the guys for that last-minute goal.

“We asked a lot from the guys, and they delivered.”

The Monarchs (1-6-6) even practiced the same scenario that led to the late equalizer in practice on Tuesday.

“We worked on patterns yesterday, and it was that identical ball from a wide area,” Juarez said. “Eti got in on one, and Sebastian gave the assist to Baldin but he had one prior to that just as good. We train it; usually a midfielder won’t shoot through, but Baldin’s family was in town, so I think he had a little extra push.

“He wanted to win, so that was good.”

Real Monarchs midfielder Fito Ovalle dribbles around the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 during a 2-2 draw Wednesday, July 3, 2015 at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Photo: Rob Gray/Monarchs Media)

Real Monarchs midfielder Fito Ovalle dribbles around the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 during a 2-2 draw Wednesday, July 3, 2015 at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Photo: Rob Gray/Monarchs Media)

Caleb Clarke scored the first goal of the match, his fifth of the season, by cutting back inside the box and maneuvering around the back line to slot home a ball past Lalo Fernandez for a 1-0 lead to the visitors. Vancouver’s Victor Blasco fed Clarke a perfect through ball, and the BC native put away a goal for his third-consecutive game.

“Six games in less than 20 days,” Juarez said. “That’s a lot of tired legs.”

Fernandez was pressed into action early, stoning Blasco on a breakaway barely 10 minutes into the game. Blasco’s shot was taken right at Fernandez, who dropped low to punch the ball into center back Phanuel Kavita.

Fito Ovalle had the Monarchs’ best chance of the night, weaving through the defense to the end line before slicing a shot from inside the six-yard box that Vancouver goalkeeper Marco Carducci tipped just outside the near post. RSL loanee Sebastian Saucedo, who started the match in place of Guyana-bound forward Emery Welshman, had two of SLC’s three shots in the first half.

Rauhofer scored the equalizer just 45 seconds into the second half, finishing a headed ball with a half-volley into the back of the net after Maikon Orellana redirected Saucedo’s cross at the end line. The Uruguayan striker scored his team-high fifth goal of the season, which is tied for the fourth-most in USL play — despite missing the first two weeks of the season.

The Monarchs had the best chances in the second half, out-shooting the Whitecaps 11-8 with all four of their shots-on-target in the game.

It was a welcome change for Juarez, whose team has now drawn back-to-back results after last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Sacramento.

“We pushed and we created, and we had some very good opportunities. It felt a lot like that Colorado game; we’ve just got to put them on frame. I think Riley (McGovern) played 90 minutes in every game of the six games, and you could see he was just tired. There were a lot more positives than negative.”

Rauhofer nearly struck again at the hour-mark, but his header was tipped by Carducci at the last second for a corner kick, which caromed off the Monarchs’ defense.

Brett Levis nearly pulled the Whitecaps back on top in the 66th minute, but his on-rushing shot at the left post was tipped wide by Phanuel Kavita’s last-ditch effort, and Ovalle cleared the ensuing corner kick.

Billy Schuler, who entered the match in the 68th minute, found his best chance of the night with back-to-back shots toward Fernandez just six minutes after his entrance. But the RSL third-string ‘keeper’s double-save kept the match level at 1-1.

With five minutes left, Lewis picked up an unmarked ball inside the 18-yard box, and — with plenty of space in front of him — slotted home the game-winner past Fernandez and inside the far post for a 2-1 lead by the Cascadian side.

But that set up the equalizer deep into the match’s second-half stoppage time.

“It felt amazing, getting the assist,” Saucedo said. “But the most important thing was that goal. I think it’s important, wether it’s the last 20  minutes or 45, it was important for us to get the ball. We’ll take the result.”

Real Monarchs travel to Rocky Mountain rival Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for Saturday’s clash at 7 p.m. MT at Sandcreek Stadium.

Sean Walker

Sean Walker

Salt City FC editor-in-chief Sean Walker has been covering soccer at all levels since 2007. He began his career in Las Vegas, and has since written for publications from the Intermountain West to Central New York, where he attended graduate school in 2012. Currently, Sean covers Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer for KSL.com. A struggling Evertonian by birth, Sean follows European soccer through the blue lens of the Toffees, and has strong feelings toward the UEFA Europa League.

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