Corey Hertzog nets 100th professional goal
PAPILLION, Neb. (September 17, 2022) – Union Omaha capitalized on a penalty kick for the second straight match but gave up a late one themselves to split points with Greenville Triumph SC Saturday night.
The Owls and the Triumph came into the night’s competition at Werner Park back-to-back in the standings, with the winner cementing themselves in second place. The League One heavyweights, the finalists the last two seasons, were both experiencing some uncharacteristic run of form, with the Owls’ finding themselves in a 2-match losing streak after a tough road contest at FC Tucson before falling behind late against the table-topping Richmond Kickers Wednesday night. Greenville came in having lost two of its last three, most recently to Charlotte Independence. Both sides came in looking for a statement win to claw back into the race for first place.
The first shot on target for the night came from Ryen Jiba in the 6th minute, twisting his body to put on a solid shot that was nabbed by Greenville goalkeeper Paul Christensen. Within the first ten minutes, Miles Fenton earned the first booking of the match with a yellow card after a takedown of Noe Meza.
A corner kick set up Corey Hertzog to put the Owls up in the 28th minute. The 32-year-old veteran spun around off a flick from Luis Gil and hit the shot off the crossbar. It was a strong first half yet again from the home side, that peppered the goal with 6 shots in the first half while controlling 51% of the possession.
“I think the positive is that you can come back after a bad result and a horrible way to lose a game and come out start the game unbelievable,” Union Omaha Head Coach Jay Mims said.
A pair of yellows bookended the end of the first half, as Noah Franke scored the Triumph’s second at the end, before JP Scearce opened up the second half with Omaha’s first.
In the 67th minute, Shaft Brewer Jr. put some shifty moves on a Greenville defender before turning and squaring his body to take a point-blank stab at goal which Christensen was able to punch away. Shortly following, Derek Waldeck went into the book with the Triumph’s third yellow card of the match.
The wheels of the Owls’ offense were still turning, eager to break the deadlock. Scearce hit a banger attempt which Christensen sent back, with the ball ultimately falling to Hertzog who had a dangerously close look but slipped it just wide of goal.
It was the 75th minute when Hertzog drew his second penalty kick in as many matches, with Brandon Fricke earning the caution on the challenge. Hertzog stepped up and calmly slotted it home, giving the Owls the 1-0 lead and hitting the centennial mark on professional career goals.
“It’s always good to get that milestone,” Hertzog said. “It’s been a long career so it’s good to get that.”
Fenton earned a second yellow in the 80th minute, being back to the locker rooms. The decision would give the Owls a man up for the last ten minutes of the match to preserve their lead and add some possibly insurance. The home side would get an even bigger advantage in the 85th, when Fricke earned another yellow and was sent off the field.
The tides changed yet again in the opening minute of stoppage time, when a deep run by the Triumph into Omaha’s box cued a foul on the Owls’ defense, earning the visitors a point to the spot. Rashid Nuhu earned a yellow card just before Aaron Walker stepped up to take and score Greenville’s penalty kick. The Owls were denied any attempts in stoppage time to salvage another 2 points, ultimately walking away earning the 1-1 tie.
“We can’t change it now. We just have to keep battling,” Hertzog said. “Playoffs start tomorrow, basically. We have to look at this. We played well, played well enough to win, but it’s a 4-game, 12-point playoff run before we go into playoffs right now.”
With the draw, the Owls curb their 2-match losing streak and remain in first place with four matches still to play. They will hit the road again to visit Northern Colorado Hailstorm Wednesday, September 21. Omaha will have to wait three weeks before it gets another crack at home, taking on South Georgia Tormenta FC on Saturday, October 8 for Hispanic Heritage Night.
“Night and day difference from the last time they came here and played us compared to now. We’re that much better of a team,” Mims said. “We bounced back once and came back and got a great start, so we just have to do it again Wednesday.”
“These two games were playoff-type games. We knew there wasn’t going to be much room for errors and margins were tight with Richmond and Greenville.” -Mims
ABOUT UNION OMAHA
Union Omaha, the 2021 USL League One Champion, is the only professional soccer team in the state of Nebraska. USL League One is a United States Soccer Federation-sanctioned professional men’s soccer league that occupies the third tier of the American soccer landscape, below USL Championship (tier two) and Major League Soccer (tier one). Union Omaha plays its home matches at Werner Park in Sarpy County, also home to the Omaha Storm Chasers of Minor League Baseball. The team is led by General Manager Peter Marlette in the front office and by Head Coach Jay Mims on the field.