A late Taketo Onodera goal helped Ballard FC get all six points this weekend and take a three point lead at the top of the table.
After defeating OVF Alliance 2-0 at Interbay on Friday, Ballard FC travelled to Portland to take on PDX FC in the scorching heat.
Ballard FC won 1-0 in a hotly contested match in the first meeting between the two clubs, and Sunday’s result was quite similar: a very tight Ballard FC win.
The match got off to a quick start and it was the hosts who would open the scoring. In the 7th minute, Jacob Babolai directed his header into the bottom corner to give PDX an early lead.
It would not take very long for Ballard to respond, creating a couple dangerous chances and ultimately finding an equalizer in the 19th minute courtesy of Alex Mejia’s shoulder.
Lesia Thetsane, just back from international duty with Lesotho, sent in a cross that found Mejia’s chest. His shot was saved but the ball came back off the keeper, and Mejia directed it into the open net with his shoulder.
Mejia now has five league goals this season, making him the top scorer in the Northwest Division.
Both halves had short hydration breaks, in the 30th and 70th minutes respectively, due to the heat. The hydration breaks proved very helpful as both teams were more lively to finish the halves.
The most dangerous action at the end of the first 45′ came from PDX as they sent in a corner. Babolai won the header and beat goalkeeper Akili Kasim. But, Peter Kingston came to Ballard’s rescue as he cleared the ball off the line with a last-ditch header in the 40th minute.
The two clubs went into the break all square at 1-1 after a fairly even first half of play.
After trying three center backs with wingbacks for the first time in the first half, Head coach Jason Farrell decided to abandon the new formation at least temporarily and switched to the more familiar 4-3-3 formation as he subbed in Kevin Galiano for Christian Engmann.
The formation switch allowed for Ballard FC to be more slightly more aggressive in the attack, and the team played on the front foot for almost the entire second half.
Ballard’s attack, the heat, and the fact that PDX only had 13 players in the match day squad helped to combine and make the second half a grueling 45 minutes for the hosts.
PDX FC were able to hold on for quite some time however, reaching the 70th minute hydration break still at 1-1 and without much of a scare for their defense.
Ballard left it late, but they would eventually break the deadlock in the 82nd minute. With his last touch of the match, Cameron Martin delivered a delightful cross to the back post which was headed home by Taketo Onodera who soared through the air to finish.
Onodera had only been on the pitch for 18 minutes at that point, but his late-match heroics would earn him Man of the Match.
The Ballard FC defense would hold strong for the last ten minutes of play, holding on to a 2-1 victory and securing the double over PDX on the season.
Ballard FC will be in action again this Friday, June 1 at 7 PM at Interbay Stadium for a top of the table clash against Capital FC. Only three points separate the two clubs, so Friday’s match could go a long way in determining the top of the division standings at the end of the season.