A year ago, almost to the date, the USL League One Northern Colorado Hailstorm began its Cinderella run by knocking the Colorado Springs Switchbacks out of the Open Cup in extra time of the Second Round.
This year, the two Colorado-based professional USL clubs faced each other again. And for the second straight year, Northern Colorado upset its USL Championship neighbors to the south in extra time, 3-1, to advance to Round Three.
“Another fairytale ending. That is what I love about this competition. I’m absolutely delighted,” said Northern Colorado coach Eamon Zayed. “Now we’re on to the next one.”
GOAL @nocohailstormfc!— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) April 6, 2023
Trevor Amann gets his goal and the Hailstorm have equalized against the Switchbacks!
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B/R Football YT ➡ https://t.co/qzpMvI80LA#USOC2023 pic.twitter.com/IDKgM4O5Ei
Trevor Amann nodded home an Arthur Rogers cross to level the score with just a minute to play in regulation. Then Donald Menamna put the visitors up 2-1 in the 96th minute, and Mark Hernandez sealed the win with a spectacular solo effort in the 110th minute.
It was the USL League One Side that started the game on the front foot, and stayed there for all but the final ten minutes of the first half. Both teams failed to convert opportunities from inside twelve yards. Northern Colorado outshot Colorado Springs 9-2 in the opening stanza, forcing Switchbacks goalkeeper Alec Smir to make three saves. Colorado Springs, which started the game with several regular starters on the bench, did not get a shot on target in the first half.
The game remained a stalemate until the 82nd minute when Drew Skundrich put Colorado Springs up 1-0 with a cheeky flick just inside the far post from inside the six-yard box.
“They were really tough to break down tonight,” Skundrich said. “Marco was really intelligent going into space. I made a near post run to try to draw a defender or maybe get a touch. I got a flick on it and it went in.”
.@nocohailstormfc takes its first lead of the match in the 95th minute ⛈️— USL League One (@USLLeagueOne) April 6, 2023
Donald Benamna scores his first Hailstorm goal in his second match with the club ????#USOC2023 // #HailYeah pic.twitter.com/RNBf8U6X1I
Northern Colorado nearly leveled it just two minutes later when substitute Trevor Amann smacked a shot off the post.
Amann did not miss his next chance. With just a minute left in regulation he nodded in a Rogers cross at the far post to level the score at 1-1 and send the game to extra time.
“Trevor was brilliant for us tonight coming off the bench and scoring,” Zayed said. “It was a just reward for the work he’s put in.”
In extra time, substitutes Donald Brenamnma put the visitors up 2-1 in the 95th minute when he got behind his marker and nodded in a Marky Hernandez cross from the left flank.
“Donald was an absolute livewire when he came off the bench,” Zayed said. “He’s coming off the international break with a lot of confidence. I don’t care what level he’s playing against, people are going to have a hard time containing him.”
Hernandez put it out of reach in the 107th minute. He ran onto a ball just past midfield and waltzed uncontested into the Colorado Springs penalty box, where he smashed the ball into the far former to put the visitors up 3-1.
“I saw they were getting tired,” Hernandez said. “I knew I was going to get an opportunity. I was just against the goalie, so I knew I was not going to miss. I just took my shot.”
With the win, Northern Colorado advances to Round 3 where they will face the Colorado Rapids (MLS).