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Union Omaha Soars Into the Final with Dominant 6-1 Victory

By Will Clarke, 11/13/21, 8:15PM CST

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PAPILLION, Neb. – Union Omaha’s first playoff match got off to a flyer, exploded midway through the first half, and saw them cruise to the 2021 USL League One Final in style.

Evan Conway’s first half brace took Union Omaha to the brink. With a man advantage and all the confidence in the world, Los Búhos put FC Tucson to the sword with the most goals they’ve ever scored in a match.

“Tonight was about Union Omaha,” said Head Coach Jay Mims, after taking the time to acknowledge FC Tucson’s season, especially their turnaround under fellow Coach of the Year finalist Jon Pearlman since July. “What an amazing effort our guys put on. From the first thirty seconds of the game, we were on the front foot with some great soccer being played.”

A harbinger of what was to come arrived not thirty seconds in, when first team All-League left back Damia Viader fired across the face of goal and just missed the sliding J.P. Scearce. From the outset, though, Union Omaha was assertive, aggressive, and full of swagger. 

It didn’t take long for that to pay off. Gorgeous one-touch and two-touch combination play down the right flank yielded a Devin Boyce blast that saw the goalpost’s life flash before its eyes. The rebound fell right to Evan Conway, who stabbed it home for an opener just over two minutes in. Having an undefeated record in 2021 when scoring first, this immediately gave the Owls the high ground.

From there came an entertaining half that went from 0 to 100 almost out of nowhere. Tensions had been high in the last matchup between these two clubs, but it was an innocuous little tussle in the 30th between Devin Boyce and Maxi Schenfeld that stoked some fires. 

A minute after the latter received a yellow card, Union Omaha’s high press paid off. They had been frustrating the Arizonans all match with it, and a giveaway in their own half allowed Conway to run at them again. His mazy run and flawless control begat a… less than picturesque dribbler that nonetheless doinked off the far post and in for 2-0. Devin Boyce took the time to include Schenfeld in his thoughts during the celebration, and the resulting scuffle saw Schenfeld given a straight red card. 

Omaha would nearly net a third just minutes later, capping off maybe the most eventful five minutes of the Owls’ season, but the first half ended without any more trouble. In fact, the visitors looked run-down once they went to 10 men, with only a couple sparks of life.

Coach Mims was clearly happy about this kind of start to the match. “So many times in games, you can play great and have all kinds of chances early on, but you don’t get that goal, and then the game swings. For us to get two goals early on, it set the tone for the rest of the night.”

Damia Viader threw a haymaker just four minutes into the second half, pouncing on a rebound from a Greg Hurst shot to slot it past Wallace Lapsley. And if that was a haymaker, then Devin Boyce’s absolute stunner of a volley in the 54th put Tucson down for the count.

Charlie Dennis gave Tucson the thinnest of lifelines with a 63rd minute strike owing to him manhandling Jake Crull. Omaha would come back to open up another salvo on Tucson’s goal. Not long after, Austin Panchot was played clear in on goal, beating an offside with precision and opening his body expertly to swerve it around Lapsley. 

Amir Alihodžić would later make it 6-1 off a Lapsley punch, as if the destruction wasn’t thorough enough. As if 28 shots, 16 on target, wasn’t enough.

It was vital for the Owls to show a reaction after Tucson defeated them back in September. This performance was everything they could have wanted and more.

“We’re not done yet,” said Coach Mims. “We need to bring back to Omaha what we’re looking for. The big trophy.” Mims put his hands out, clenched tight, miming holding a trophy. In a week’s time, that could be a reality.

After a victory in their first ever playoff match, Union Omaha will face either Chattanooga Red Wolves or, perhaps more tantalizingly, Greenville Triumph in the USL League One Final. It’ll be a showdown of two teams consistently near the top of the league throughout 2021, promising a stellar affair. Crucially, though, the final will be held in Omaha, at Werner Park, thanks to Union Omaha topping the regular season table. You can catch the action Saturday, November 20th, at 4:00pm CDT. Tickets are currently available at unionomaha.com. 

 

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Union Omaha vs FC Tucson

Werner Park (Papillion, NE)

Goals by Half                          1    2    F

Union Omaha                          2    4    6

FC Tucson                               0    1    1

 

Scoring Summary:

OMA: Evan Conway 3’, 31’, Damia Viader 49’, Devin Boyce 54’, Austin Panchot 70’, Amir Alihodžić 83’

TUC: Charlie Dennis 63’

 

Misconduct Summary:

OMA: Devin Boyce (Yellow Card) 32’, Jake Crull (Yellow Card) 34’

TUC: Maxi Schenfeld (Yellow Card) 30’ and (Red Card) 32’, Charlie Dennis (Yellow Card) 44’, Manuel Ferriol (Yellow Card) 66’

 

Statistical Summary:

Shots (on goal): OMA: 28 (16); TUC: 8 (3) 

Saves: OMA: Rashid Nuhu – 2; TUC: Wallace Lapsley – 9

Possession: OMA 48.9% – TUC 51.1%

Fouls: OMA 10 TUC 12

Corner Kicks: OMA 9; TUC 2

Attendance: 3,607

 

Lineups

OMA: GK, Nuhu; D, Crull (Alihodžić 67’); D, Knutson; D, Osumanu; D, Sousa (Firmino 79’); M, Doyle (Murphy 79’); M, Scearce; M, Viader; M, Boyce (Otieno 60’); F, Conway (Panchot 60’); F, Hurst

TUC: GK, Lapsley; D, Schenfeld; D, Fox; D, Mastrantonio; D, Franke (Barnathan 64’); M, Bedoya (Knox 74’); M, Kone (Ferriol 45’); M, Dennis; F, Rodriguez (Calixtro 63’); F, Corfe; F, Adams (Diakhate 74’)

 

All game stats are unofficial.