DING DING! It’s time for the main event of the evening! In this corner, with a record of 2-1, hailing from Utica, New York, it’s Utica City FC!! In the other corner, with a record of 2-0, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, it’s the Harrisburg Heat!! Ladies and Gentlemen… LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!
With former WWE wrestler Barbie Blank in attendance, Utica City FC and the Harrisburg Heat took to the Utica Aud pitch and put on their best version of a soccer style wrestling match. A physical and intense battle would eventually result in a game-ending brawl with 1.8 seconds left and the match being called off with a 4-3 City victory.
Utica City would strike first in the 10:42 mark opening quarter when Bo Jelovac fed a pass to Jake “The Snake” Schindler, who slithered a shot past the diving Jesus Molina, making 1-0 City FC.
The second quarter got physical fast as Nate Bourdeau drew a blue card for a hard challenge which gave the Heat a shootout opportunity. Dominic Francis beat Andrew Coughlin to the left to tie the match at one. Later in the quarter, Liam Callahan would get blue carded for pushing, but the City FC penalty killing unit shut down the Heat power play. Utica City got the lead back with Ricardo Diegues scoring at the 8:26 mark, making it 2-1 City.
The third quarter would see little action until the final minute. Thanks to a Francis goal from an uncharacteristic Utica City mistake in front of net, the match would go into the fourth quarter tied at two.
The fourth quarter is where the action would pick back up. Newly acquired City defender Onua Obasi crossed up his defender and slotted a shot in the top of the net to give Utica a 3-2 lead. Moments later, James Togbah nearly made it 4-2 with an incredible bicycle kick that was thwarted by an impressive save from Molina to keep in 3-2. However, City would eventually make it 4-2 when Diegues hit the back of the net after a neat swivel move with the ball in front of net. Daniel Villela would draw the Heat back within one at the 9:30 mark of the quarter. With time winding down in the match, the Heat would put on the sixth attacker and unsuccessfully try to tie the game. With the final seconds ticking down, Jake Schindler moved the ball out of the zone and got tripped up in front of the Heat bench with 1.8 seconds left. That is when the bell would ring for the fight.
Here is what I saw being at the game in person and after video review post-game concerning the fight:
- Jake Schindler was pulled down by a Heat player Tom Mellor.
- Schindler gets up and appears to put his hand on Mellor, holding him on the ground. The next moment, the Heat bench, including Coach Pat Healey, jump on the field and begin an altercation surrounding Schindler.
- The Utica City bench clears to defend Jake, who is seen tangled with a Heat player. Patrick Thompson ends up pulling Jake out of trouble. James Togbah appears to tangle with David Mellor.
- James Togbah pulls David Mellor off Schindler and is put in a headlock by Tom Mellor, who quickly releases when Healey and other players break them up.
- Schindler is held back by Nate Bourdeau. Players continue to bark as others, including the coaches, try to make peace.
- While tensions seemed to be calming in the bench area, Ty Hall appeared visually upset in the midfield area. Players soon migrate towards him. Coach Ryan Hall and Healey, along with other players and officials, rush in the diffuse the situation. Ty Hall challenges someone to step outside, but the groups ultimately separate with little harm done.
- Healey orders the majority of his team to the locker room as peace is restoring on field. Utica City remains on the field as the captains and refs meet to sort out the situation.
- The remaining players and coaches shake hands and call peace as the match is called.
I saw MASL VP Jon Ramin after the game and said, “Have fun with this one!” I, along with the rest of you reading this, are anxious to see what the league officials do about this altercation and how they will divvy out fines and suspensions.
Utica City will next be in action on the road Saturday as they face off with long time rival Baltimore Blast.