Omar Sowe had a hat trick and Caden Clark notched two goals and one assist as the Red Bulls II romped past the Union II at MSU Soccer Park to reduce the gap to seven points between themselves and second-placed Harford Athletic in Group F
Omar Sowe returned to the Red Bulls lineup after suffering from an injury earlier in the season, and his appearance made a difference as he had multiple chances to put the home side ahead. Just seven minutes in the match, he earned a penalty kick after being fouled by Union II goalkeeper Matthew Freese.
However, Chris Lema failed to capitalize on this great opportunity; Freese saved his left-footed shot after the ball hit the inside of the goalpost. The first half remained dominated by the hosts, though and both Sowe and Jake LaCava managed to hit the right post three minutes apart.
Late in the first half, though, Sowe was clinical to put the Red Bulls II ahead. First, in the final minute of regulation, he outmuscled Union II defender Ben Ofeimu and fired into the left corner of the net. Then two minutes in stoppage time, he caught Philadelphia's high defensive line napping and broke in for a one-on-one with Freese that saw him chip the ball over into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
New York continued to pressure early in the second half, but with 19 minutes to go the Union II almost halved the lead as Brandan Craig fired a shot off a half-cleared corner kick just wide of the right post. The Red Bulls II quickly added to their lead, though, as Dantouma Toure led a counterattack that saw the ball reach Clark as he moved into the right side of the penalty area. Freese got a piece of Clark’s shot, but Dantouma buried the finish as the ball bounced toward the goal.
Sowe then completed his hat trick in the 74th minute as Clark picked up the assist, delivering a precise low cross from the right side of the penalty area that allowed Sowe to fire home the first time into the bottom-right corner. Clark then wrapped up the win with two goals in the final eight minutes, scoring twice from close range as first Deri Corfe and then Toure delivered low crosses from the left of the penalty area for him to finish.
Omar Sowe on his first professional hat trick:
"It feels good, coming out here, especially getting my first hat trick at home. It feels really good, and it’s my first goal, obviously, at home, again. I think it’s a good result from the boys coming out from a loss last game to just bounce back and make sure we get the win at home."
Head coach John Wolyneic talked about the team's performance after the match:
"Yeah, overall, it was good. I thought it was probably our most complete performance. Obviously, shown by our first shutout, so really happy there. Obviously, we score a few goals, but that just happens a lot of the times with the way we play, we are aggressive, so once we get an edge, we have the capability of pushing the game in that direction. It is important obviously, we needed the three points to keep us in the hunt, and it sets up well for next week, a huge matchup, and we really to get something out of it, if we want to keep our hopes alive."