Battling the Hailstorm: Lexington SC’s Upcoming Clash Against Northern Colorado
Lexington SC (4-6-10, 18 points) travel out to Windsor, Colorado, to take on the Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (10-5-3, 35 points) on Saturday, August 5th, who are on top of the USL1 table. The match is set to be played at TicketSmarter Stadium at Future Legends Complex, with kickoff set at 9 pm EST/8 pm CST. The contest will be Lexington’s 2nd road match of the week, their first being a 2-0 loss in Omaha on Wednesday. Lexington and NoCO had faced each other before this season back at Toyota Stadium. Lexington railed from behind (and should have won – DIOUF WAS ONSIDES!!!) for a 2-2 draw against NoCo on June 3rd.
Northern Colorado is by far the best team in the league, but they have some weaknesses. They have dropped their last two matches (yes, both were on the road) in a combined score of 6-1, being shut out by North Carolina 2-0 and then blown out by the Independence 4-1. Over their last 5 matches, they are 3-0-2 with 10 goals but have conceded 9 goals. However, they are still deadly and should not be overlooked at all. The Hailstorm is the best team at home this year, having never lost a match and winning 6 out of 7, the one draw being to One Knoxville. They have scored 15 goals across those 7 games, conceding only 4, which puts their attack at scoring 2.14 GPM at home and their defense allowing just 0.57 GPM. The numbers do not just stop there, with NoCo having the league leaders in goals (Trevor Amann – 14), assists (Arthur Rodgers – 8), and big chances created (Arthur Rodgers – 13). The matchup does not look suitable for Lexington on paper, a club that has yet to win on the road all season through 10 matches.
However, this is a Lexington side that does not just go quietly into that good night and will likely not be a breather game for a NoCo side that has faced 4 straight teams in the playoff hunt. Lexington is 1-1-1 running the new 3-5-2 formation. While they did look a little lost on Wednesday, I believe that was due to the swap out of Machell and Brown for Soso and Balogun rather than the club not being used to the formation. In the 3 matches under the new shape, the club has scored 5 goals and conceded 4, with the shutout to Omaha being the first time the team had been shut out since the inaugural home match against Forward Madison way back on April 8th, a 14 match streak with a goal. Lexington has the talent and tactics to win against NoCo, especially since they have been counted out by the rest of the league (similar to the lead-up to the home match against Omaha). Still, they must put in a complete 90 for the Boys in Green to win points in this match.
In full transparency, like many fans of Lexington, I fear tomorrow night’s game will be the club’s 5th straight loss on the road and their 11th overall loss on the year. However, I still have hope for this team because of the talent, but most importantly, the heart is there. From the beginning, Coach Stockley has preached that need for patience as he and his staff build a team that can be competitive for years, not just 1 season. This team is young, with an average age of roughly 25 years, they have been getting better and better with every game, but you have to fall to rise. I have not seen this team ever give up in a game. So while times may be tough now, just remember that football is called the beautiful game because anything is possible.
Players to Watch
Kaelon Fox – or the Flying Fox, as he is now known, thanks to his #SCTop10 play on Wednesday was honestly the greatest save by a defender I have seen. Fox has been the anchor of the Lexington defense all season, and Stockley will need his first signing to lead the charge defensively to stop the Hailstorm’s crushing attack.
Arthur Rodgers – is the Hailstorm’s best player, but that often gets overshadowed by Amann thanks to the goal scorer bias. Lexington has done an excellent job stopping the team’s best scorers all year. Still, they should focus more on stopping Rodgers because he is the field general commanding the entire attack.
NoCo Hailstorm 2 – 1 Lexington SC