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Thunder Open New Stadium With 2-2 Carolina Draw

July 12, 2008 - USL First Division (USL-1) - Minnesota Thunder News Release

ST PAUL, Minn. (July 11, 2008)- The Minnesota Thunder out shot the Carolina Railhawks 14 to 5 but couldn't seem to find the back of the net to score a game winner in the 2-2 draw Friday night. In the Thunder's stadium opener, 3,732 fans came out to watch the Thunder battle and even with a two hour thunderstorm delay, fans went home happy. The Thunder turned their game up a notch in the second half, providing the fans who stuck through the weather with a great show.

The Thunder came out attacking and playing strong to start the half, with the ball in the Railhawk's defensive third for the first ten minutes. Kevin Friedland was the first to get a dangerous ball in the box on a header off a cross from Freddy Moojen. The ball went just over, but that didn't stop the Thunder's goal-hungry mentality.

In the 7th minute, the Thunder got on the scoreboard. Dale Weiler, who was earning his first starting spot this season, scored for the Thunder. Moojen sent a ball across to Weiler who ran onto the ball and pushed toward goal. Weiler slipped the ball past Carolina goalkeeper Chris McClellan, putting the Thunder in an early advantage.

Luchi Gonzalez played well for the Thunder tonight, pressuring up top and playing off the strikers well. In the 17th minute, Gonzalez shot a ball from the far goal line that McClellan had to tip over to save. Gonzalez struck again in the 22nd minute, bending a ball, with strong wind attached, just wide of the Railhawk's goal.

In the 26th minute, the Railhawks equalized. Martin Nunez scored for the Railhawks, finishing a penalty kick after Thunder goalkeeper Nic Platter fouled in the box. Nunez aimed upper right and scored, evening the score at 1-1.

The Railhawks jumped ahead in the 31st minute, scoring just five minutes later. Hamed Diallo sent a pass to Santiago Fusilier who beat a Thunder defender and slid the ball far post past Platter in the six yard box. After 15 more minutes of play, the Thunder went into halftime break down 2-1, and in for a long wait.

"We're disappointed because we only gave up two chances the entire game and they capitalized on both of them. I thought our first 10-15 minutes of the game was outstanding, the best soccer we've played," said head coach Amos Magee.

After a two hour severe thunderstorm delay, the game started up again. The Thunder came out ready to fight, and put up a solid six shots on net in the second half. In the 52nd minute Gonzalez sent a perfectly placed corner kick to Moojen who shot just wide of the Carolina goal.

The Thunder was given an advantage in the 64th minute, after Nunez was ejected from the game, forcing the Railhawks to play a man down. The Thunder took advantage of the opportunity and put heavy pressure on to score an equalizer. Carolina got lucky in the 66th minute after three shots from the Thunder were stopped by Carolina defenders. Moojen, Jeremiah Bass, and Stephen deRoux all got shots off, but couldn't seem to pass the four Railhawk defenders in the box.

In the 80th minute, the Thunder scored their much needed equalizer. Gonzalez sent a shot into the box that was followed up by Melvin Tarley, whose pressure caused the Carolina goalkeeper to fumble the ball. Tarley put on the pressure, finding the back of the net off an ineffective McClellan clear.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie, but the Thunder left the game with their heads held high. "I loved our mentality the entire second half. We didn't panic; we really busted our butts to get an equalizer. It was almost like there was a lid on the goal for a little bit. All things considered we're a group that's growing and our mentality was right tonight," said Magee.

On the road tonight, the Minnesota Lightning held off the Kalamazoo Outrage 4-1 to earn their sixth win of the season. Caroline Smith had two goals for the Lightning, bringing her up to nine on the season. Captain Megan Almanzo left the game with a knee injury, leaving the Lightning without their strongest defender for most of the game. The Lightning advance to 6-1-2 and go on to play the West Michigan Firewomen Sunday, July 13 at 7pm.

The Thunder host Championship League team Burnley F.C. on July 15 at 7:35pm. Tickets for Tuesday's match range from $12-$55 and can be purchased by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 651.989.5151. For group tickets call the Thunder office at 651.294.4664.

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