Duluth FC’s Domaratskyy shines in playoff win
The BlueGreens will play Muskegon Risers in the Midwest Region semifinal Friday in Muskegon, Michigan.
DULUTH — It’s already been a busy week for Duluth FC’s Kostyantyn Domaratskyy.
The BlueGreens’ Ukrainian-born midfielder spent time visiting with a youth soccer team from his war-torn home country Monday, and Tuesday he led his team to a 3-1 win over Columbus FC in the 2022 National Premier Soccer League Midwest Region quarterfinal at Public Schools Stadium.
Domaratskyy took a pass from Sam Thornton about 30 seconds into the game and put a shot past Columbus goalkeeper Benjamin Ziegler to give Duluth an early lead.
“We pressed them really high and we got the goal really quickly because we were on it from the first seconds,” Domaratskyy said. “It was important to press them from the first minute.”
Early in the second half, Domaratskyy picked up an assist when Blake Perry scored in the 50th minute to give the BlueGreens a 2-0 lead.
“He’s been fantastic for us all year, he’s been really key to the way we want to play in terms of pressing high and the organization that he brings to the press,” BlueGreens coach Sean Morgan said. “We talked before the game that we wanted to start quickly and with high energy and it’s a testament to him to get on the end of it and settle the nerves and get the early goal.”
Duluth kept the ball in Columbus territory for much of the game and took advantage of turnovers to prevent the Saints from building any momentum.
With just 12 players traveling to Duluth, Columbus had to be conservative in its play early and try to counter the BlueGreens' attack early on.
“Our frustration is turnovers, because those were opportunities to create chances,” Columbus coach Maziya Chete said. “The inability to make that final pass allowed them the opportunity to keep possession.”
The Saints’ Michael Chilton finally got his team on the board in the 86th minute, but a goal five minutes later by Duluth Denfeld graduate and 2020 News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year Keegan Chastey slammed the door on any comeback for Columbus.
Domaratskyy arrived in the U.S. in May from his hometown of Lviv, a little more than 60 miles from Ukraine’s western border with Poland, and he jumped at the chance to spend some other players from his home country.
“It’s been a long time since I communicated with some people in the Ukrainian language except with my family on the phone, so it was pretty cool,” Domaratskyy said.
With the win, Duluth advanced to the Midwest Region semifinals against Great Lakes Conference champion Muskegon Risers at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Muskegon, Michigan.
This story was edited at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20 to correct Duluth FC's semifinal opponent and the game location. It was originally posted at 11:14 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19.