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 Rhode Island FC

Rhode Island FC and Sacramento Republic FC Fight to Dramatic 2-2 Draw

May 11, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Rhode Island FC News Release


SMITHFIELD, R.I. - A back-and-forth first half and a dramatic stoppage-time set piece saw Rhode Island FC fight to a 2-2 draw against Western Conference leaders Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday at Beirne Stadium. A pair of goals from Stephen Turnbull and Karifa Yao saw the homeside hold the lead deep into second half stoppage time, but it wasn't enough to earn all three points as the game ended level.

After an energetic start, Clay Holstad forced the first save out of Sacramento goalkeeper Jared Mazzola in the 11th minute with a left-footed effort from just outside the 18-yard box. Eight minutes later, Noah Fuson nailed the crossbar with a powerful strike from a similar position.

The Ocean State club eventually took advantage of its early momentum in the 31st minute, when Stephen Turnbull collected Holstad's long ball over the top of the Sacramento defense on the right wing. Moving around his marker and taking the ball off his chest just inside the penalty area, the defender unleashed a powerful shot with his right foot that beat a diving Mazzola at the near post to give RIFC (1-2-6) its first-ever lead at Beirne Stadium. The goal marked the first time Sacramento (5-0-5) had conceded first in a match all season.

The lead was short-lived, however, as the Western Conference leaders responded just seven minutes later. Jumping above everyone at the back post, Trevor Amann got on the end of Jack Gurr's cross into the six-yard box, depositing a flicked header past the outstretched arm of Koke Vegas and into the side netting to knot the match at 1-1.

A back-and-forth first half did not end there, as RIFC once again re-took the lead in the 42nd minute. Newly-acquired midfielder Jack Panayotou, who joined RIFC on loan from Major League Soccer club New England Revolution on Friday, sent in a dangerous corner from the right side, and Karifa Yao knocked in the header from point-blank range for his first career USL Championship goal. Yao's go-ahead goal was enough to take the homeside into halftime with a 2-1 lead.

Coming out of the break, RIFC once again created better attacking opportunities. In the 71st minute, Fuson split the defense with a pass down the right wing that sent Albert Dikwa "Chico" into a one-on-one position with Mazzola, but the Sacramento goalkeeper stayed strong and denied the reigning Golden Boot winner what would have been his fourth goal of the season.

Through 90 minutes, RIFC outshot Sacramento 21-9, and held the Western Conference leaders to just two shots in the second half after taking the lead. The visitors would ultimately be the last team to score in the third minute of second half stoppage time, however, when Jonathan Ricketts got the final touch in a scramble at the goalmouth off a deflected set piece shot. The defender tapped in the equalizer from close range to rescue a point for the visitors as each club was forced to walk away with a single point in a 2-2 draw.

Up next, RIFC will head back out on the road with another Western Conference battle against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Friday, May 17 at 9 p.m. The match will be streamed on CBS Sports Golazo Network, and fans can also join in cheering on the team at the RIFC Official Watch Party at Troop PVD in Providence. The team will then return to Beirne Stadium on Saturday, May 25 at 4 p.m. against Louisville City FC. Tickets to the match are available at rhodeislandfc.com/tickets.

After hosting Louisville, the RIFC Fan Bus will depart for the club's inaugural Rhode Trip to Hartford Athletic on Saturday, June 1. Fans interested in attending the first-ever derby match are encouraged to email tickets@rhodeislandfc.com or call 401-955-RIFC (7432) to secure a seat on the RIFC Fan Bus!

GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN

RI - Stephen Turnbull (Clay Holstad), 31st minute: Stephen Turnbull slams home a powerful effort from inside the 18-yard box. RI 1, SAC 0

SAC - Trevor Amann (Jack Gurr), 38th minute: Amann heads home Gurr's cross from close range at the far post. RI 1, SAC 1

RI - Karifa Yao (Jack Panayotou), 42nd minute: Yao drills a close-range header into the back of the net off of Panayotou's corner. RI 2, SAC 1

SAC - Jonathan Ricketts, 90+3 minute: Ricketts pokes home a late equalizer. RI 2, SAC 2

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Stephen Turnbull's goal in the 31st minute was his third for the club, and second in USL Championship play. The powerful effort from inside the 18-yard box gave RIFC its first-ever lead at Beirne Stadium.

Midfielder Jack Panayotou made his first start for Rhode Island FC after joining the club on loan from Major League Soccer side New England Revolution on Friday. The 19-year-old collected his first USL Championship assist in his debut.

Karifa Yao scored the go-ahead goal for RIFC in the 42nd minute, netting the first of his RIFC career. Yao is the fourth RIFC player to find the back of the net through nine USL Championship matches.

Chico returned to the starting 11 after being sidelined with an injury during last weekend's match at North Carolina FC.

JJ Williams made his RIFC debut in the second half, coming in as a substitute in the 81st minute.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen Turnbull

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