Toros do not quit: WCFC draws Maplebrook 2-2 in inaugural UPSL tilt

“It doesn’t matter how down we are, if we are losing for so many goals — we never are going to stop running, we never are going to stop fighting for any goals until the referee says ‘it is done.’”

The WCFC Bulls acknowledge their travelling fans after stunning Maplebrook late for a 2-2 draw.
The WCFC Bulls acknowledge their travelling fans after stunning Maplebrook late for a 2-2 draw.
Dominic Burns/The Globe

MAPLE GROVE — Despite trailing much of their first game in the United Premier Soccer League the Worthington Community Football Club found two late goals to earn a draw against the Maplebrook 58ers on Saturday evening.

Maplebrook played a defensive 5-4-1 formation and were content to create scoring chances with long through balls to its striker.

WCFC started the game hot with two scoring chances within the opening 90 seconds. But Salvador Nava García’s shots went high of the goal.

Maplebrook then began to settle into their own offensive identity. The 58ers would allow the Toros midfields to cross center field and then pressure the dribbling player in hopes of a turnover.

Once a turnover was created, the 58ers swiftly kicked the ball up to their attacking players. The counterattack worked effectively against a Toros team that had mostly played teams in a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 formation.


The 58ers found offensive chances with one shot going high, and the other fizzling out after moving too slow in the offensive zone.

But after 15 minutes of play the 58ers found the net, as the Toros back line had a miscommunication which was taken advantage of.

Then came the fouls, Chris Cerda was shown a yellow for taking a tactical foul to stop a counterattack. Another Toros defender was also shown yellow after missing the ball on a tackle.

Nava García was shown the offsides flag four times in the final 30 minutes of the first half.

Maplebrook was shown two yellow cards for similar fouls to the Toros and the physical first half ended with WCFC having chances but unable to finish them.

“The first half was a little tough for us — we were losing a lot of position on the field,” said WCFC head coach Eswin Hernandez. “We were able to make some adjustments to help compete in the second half. I think the whole second we had complete control of the game.”

The Toros made two adjustments in the second half that put them in the driver’s seat. The Bulls substituted Prince Lebbi onto the pitch and moved a center defensive midfielder deeper into the pitch to shadow the 58ers striker.

“We did those adjustments my assistant Mario (Cordova) and I to move Miguel (Moreno) in the middle and put Prince inside and for everybody it worked really well,” said Hernandez. “It was a good learning experience for us — a lot of our players have never played at this level before. They were excited after we scored a goal and they just wanted to keep running after that.”


The Toros conceded a howitzer of a second goal in the second half to put them down 2-0. But, they kept pressure on Maplebrook through the dribble and speed of Lebbi.

The Toros began to create pressure down the wings through the dribble of Lebbi and Cerda. They finished multiple chances on goal, but the Maplebrook keeper played in a good position to get the save. Nevertheless the Toros persisted.

“It doesn’t matter how down we are, if we are losing for so many goals — we never are going to stop running, we never are going to stop fighting for any goals until the referee says ‘it is done,’” said Hernandez. “That is something that tells us what kind of players we have. How much they love this team, they are willing to do everything.”

The Toros finally found their first goal in the final 15 minutes of their inaugural game. After winning a corner kick from an offensive possession, the rebound from the first attempt found its way to Lebbi standing at the top of the penalty area. Lebbi fired his shot and the keeper had no time to react.

“The coach (Hernandez) always wants me to stay back because I am one of the fastest guys on the team. So whenever we lose a ball on a corner kick, as a guy I can trace back and catch up to the counterattack,” said Lebbi on the reasoning for his position. “So I was just kind of there hanging around and the ball got to me and I fired it off.”

With the goal the Toros came to life, They celebrated by taking the ball out of the goal and putting it back into the center to continue playing on for the game tying goal.

“After I scored that first goal it gave me the enthusiasm that I needed and energy. It gave the whole team a boost,” said Lebbi on the new life the Toros showed. “After the goal we kept going 100 percent pressure, pressure pressure.”

“I was telling them we need to keep pushing because we don’t have more time and something was gelling to them,” said Hernandez.


The Toros pressure got the best of the Maplebrook team and not long after his first goal Lebbi found the back of the net once again to tie the game up at 2-2.

”It would be nice if we can make all those adjustments before a game has started, that way we don’t lose a whole half, and then we have to go and recover,” said Hernandez on the ability to adapt. “It is good because on Tuesday when we have practice we are going to have an analysis of the game and talk about all the mistakes that we made and hopefully fix them.”

The Toros then spent the final few minutes trading attack for counterattack. The 58ers worked furiously to win back their lead, and for a brief moment it appeared that they had. But then came the offsides flag and the go-ahead goal from the Maplebrook team in the final 90 seconds was disallowed and the Toros earned their first ever point in the UPSL.

The Toros play St. Croix Soccer Club on Sunday, May 7. The game is scheduled to be played at Stillwater High School at 4 p.m.

“I am just so happy right now. Even though we didn’t win the game for us to come back from 2-0 down, to tie the game up, man, is special,” said Lebbi.

Dominic Burns is a reporter at the Globe who covers general news and sports.
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