Duluth FC took a 2-0 lead into halftime in their National Premier Soccer League postseason match with Carpathia FC on Tuesday, July 21, 2021 at Public Schools Stadium, but the visitors were the ones who advanced in the playoffs.
Carpathia's two second-half goals sent the match went into overtime and after two scoreless sessions, it came down to penalty kicks. In the shootout rounds, Carpathia edged Duluth FC 5-4.
Carpathia FC is based in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights. The playoff match on Tuesday marked the first meeting between the two clubs.
Duluth FC's scoring came from Jake Starling in the 27th minute and Sidney Warden in the 38th minute. Starling's goal was his first of the season, while Warden connected for the 17th time this year. Carpathia came back with goals from Owen Smith in the 79th minute on a penalty kick, then again on a free kick in the 82nd minute. In the shootout, Alex Serwatka scored the game-winner.
"I thought we dominated the game, to be honest," said Duluth FC head coach Sean Morgan. "We played quality football and they were very direct and I thought we dealt with it well for the majority of the game, barring two lapses with the two goals. I can't thank the guys enough for what they've done today. They left it out on the field and that is just the way it goes with penalties, it is a lottery at the end of the day and it is unfortunate that we came out on the wrong side of it."
The 2021 season marked Morgan’s first time coaching in the NPSL playoffs. As a player, he was part of BlueGreens squads that earned postseason spots in 2017 and 2018.
"Just look at the crowd that we had tonight for a playoff game on a Tuesday on two days notice. For us to over the last couple of years become more of a focal point for local soccer and to give a lot of the kids something to look up to and aspire to, it is fantastic to be a part of."
Carpathia FC moves on to face Minneapolis City in the playoffs. That match is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Edor Nelson Athletic Field in Minneapolis.