Coyotes win in stoppage time, clinch playoff spot

The Western Nevada FC Coyotes entered this past Saturday’s match at Real San Jose looking to not only increase its UPSL-unbeaten streak to 10 games, but also to clinch a spot in the Wild West Conference playoffs. In the end, the team was able to accomplish both goals with a 2-1 victory.

The match did not start out in the Coyotes favor as Real San Jose was able to find the back of the net in the 22nd minute. That score would hold up through intermission. As the second half went on, the difference in fitness levels became apparent as the Coyotes were able to dictate the tempo. Danny Baumgartner then knocked one home in the 77th minute to bring the Coyotes level at one goal apiece.

The two sides appeared to be headed for a 1-1 draw when Nick Tunic took a throw-in from Michael Cole and banged into the top corner of net, giving the Coyotes a 2-1 victory at the death.

Head coach Ian Hill brought up the adversity that the team fought through to get the victory. “I’m pleased with the way we were able to deal with the adversity of not only horrible field conditions, but also a tough Real San Jose defense that stayed tight and compact,” Hill said. “We just weren’t able to get anything going in the first half.

“We got our mojo back in the second half and started playing our style of play,” Hill continued. “We started to put pressure on them both offensively and defensively. It was just a matter of time before we got not only the equalizing goal but also the winning goal.

“I’m proud of how we got it out in manufactured a win and some very tough conditions.”

Baumgartner noted that the slow start presented the Coyotes a different challenge. “As the match went on, we weren’t playing our game. There were many factors playing into that, but we got caught out on our slow start and conceded an early goal,” Baumgartner said. “Heading into half time down 1-0 was a change for us, but a great opportunity to truly shine and demonstrate why we deserve to be on the top of the table, #1 in the nation, and remain undefeated.

“We kept calm, had confidence in the work we had been putting in, and knew that we could come away victorious, and our play proved us right. It wasn’t the prettiest of matches, but champions find a way to win, and we did exactly that.”

Tunic said the team came in prepared, knowing that the match would be a battle. “It was an absolute battle. We knew it was going to be like this coming into it. We were well prepared and ready for war,” Tunic said. “We wanted to get the 3 points
and bring it back to Nevada with us.

“We showed tremendous fight and grit to come back from a goal behind,” Tunic continued. “We didn’t get down on each other. We kept saying ‘It’s coming. It’s gonna come.’ And it did. We left it late, but that goes to show our level of fitness as a team. Ultimately, keeping the undefeated streak was huge for us, as well as staying at the top of the table.

“For me to score a goal like I did, in the 90th minute of the match and for it to be a game winner, was simply a special moment that I will never forget. We can now enjoy a weekend off and get our bodies right for the upcoming fixtures, as well as playoffs.”

The Coyotes will now have a well-deserved week off before its next match at home against San Leandro United FC on May 26.

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