Pedro Dolabella, Alex Steinwascher and Joe Gallardo net scores for the Owls
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 20, 2023) – Saturday night League One action was full of drama as Union Omaha and Chattanooga Red Wolves traded goals in a 3-3 draw.
The Owls would be looking to avenge their first-ever playoff loss from a season ago after going undefeated against the Red Wolves in regular-season play. It was the first meeting of the year between the sides, both under first-year head coaches. Coming off a long bye week, Saturday was the start to a busy week for the Owls who now faced three matches in seven days.
Applying constant early pressure with an effective press, the Owls looked ready to take the opening goal at several glimpses early on. Pedro Dolabella forced a save out of the Chattanooga goalkeeper in the 11th minute, heading on a pinpoint cross from Luis Gil, the latter creating his first of five chances on the night. Gil flicked a shot of his own on-target in the 20th minute, prompting Ricardo Jerez to make another save.
The Owls found their opener just a minute later, with Dolabella being denied his first attempt but working around a Red Wolves defender and pouncing on the second-chance ball to send it into the back of the net for the early lead.
Omaha dominated both sides of the ball in the first half, recording 5 shots on target and 11 shots total, while limiting the Red Wolves to 45% possession and just 1 shot the entire half.
Chattanooga came out of the half reinvigorated, with Chevone Marsh striking in the 55th minute to put the Red Wolves back even at 1-1.
Rashid Nuhu was called upon several times in the second half, first in the 61st minute with a save off a long-distance shot from Mayele Molongo.
Just over a minute after subbing onto the pitch, first-year pro Alex Steinwascher booted a ferocious hit to knock the life out of CHI Memorial Stadium and bring the Owls back up 2-1 in the 66th minute. It was the first goal of the season for the 22-year-old Xavier University product.
The Red Wolves refused to go down without making things interesting, as Papa Mensah was able to equalize for the hosts in the 73rd minute.
Less than two minutes later, the Owls were back on the prowl with a quick response, as Joe Brito tapping it to fresh substitute Joe Gallardo, who netted the Omaha’s third on the night to win the advantage right back.
A Chattanooga back-post cross was able to pull the score back even in the opening minutes of stoppage time, with Alex Tejera providing the equalizing header.
Nuhu provided some late heroics, saving a point for the Owls at the death. His biggest save of the night came in the final minute of play after the Red Wolves were awarded a penalty kick, the two-time League One Golden Glove winner stepped up and denied Walter Valera to cement the draw.
“Disappointing to just come away with a point, but Rashid obviously came up big in the last minute with a huge penalty save,” Union Omaha Head Coach Dominic Casciato said. “We had an opportunity early in the second half to kill the game off, which we didn’t take.”
“I’m happy to score and contribute for the club, but we wanted the win,” Dolabella said. “It’s not easy to play here, but we take the point away. Looking forward to getting back in front of our fans — we miss them, and their support will be much-needed on Wednesday.”
“Credit to Chattanooga for fighting back every time we scored and putting us under pressure,” Casciato said. “Every time you score 3 goals away from home, you’re expected to win the game, but we go again Wednesday now.”
Omaha returns home to Werner Park for another pair of rivalry matches at home to close out the week, first hosting Greenville Triumph SC on Wednesday, May 24 for World Soccer Night presented by Family Fare, followed by Forward Madison FC on Saturday, May 27 for “One Means All” Night.
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 Dominic Casciato on the field.