GREENVILLE – The Grand Rapids Union Red Hawks soccer team was missing four starters from its lineup. With rain falling heavy at times the Red Hawks were not missing their fight.
The Red Hawks battled back in the second half down 2-0 to defeat the Greenville Yellow Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night at Yellow Jacket Stadium.
With 6:25 remaining in the game, Pablo Velasquez scored his second goal of the night past sliding Greenville keeper Luke Wilson to put the Red Hawks in front for the first and final time.
“We were missing four starters tonight. It was a gutty performance by far with the kids we had,” Union coach Bill Osborne said. “We were down to one sub since some kids were banged up, as well. We are happy to get out of here with a win.”
Mark Hebert scored the lone goal of the first half as the Yellow Jackets led 1-0. Mitchell Shaw gave Greenville a 2-0 lead with 34:19 remaining in the game.
The Yellow Jackets controlled possession in early part of each half before the Red Hawks got things together.
“We have a good record, we have a decent team, but we come out of the blocks slow,” Osborne said. “I think the kids were distracted with the players we had missing.”
Union got on the board with a goal by Gonzalo Alfaro with 26:52 left in the game to make the score 2-1. The Yellow Jackets nearly answered a short while later when Shaw had his point blank shot deflected by a Union defender that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Velasquez tied the game on his first goal with 18:03 remaining.
“There were a couple of plays we just didn’t make,” Greenville coach Chris Hammond said. “I think that was the difference in the game.”
Union had a chance to go up by two goals with just 5:06 remaining on a penalty kick. Wilson was given a red card for interfering with a Union player. Ben Golden had to come into the game, but Union missed the shot to keep the score at 3-2.
“The referee said that Luke (Wilson) grabbed the guy’s leg,” Hammond said. “If it’s denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity it’s a red card. That was the call.”
The Yellow Jackets had a couple more scoring chances including Hebert’s hard shot that was saved by Manuel Campos with just one second remaining.
“We had plenty of shots,” Hammond said. “We just didn’t score enough.”
Osborne expected the game to be a close one and was happy with the win.
“They (Greenville) play in the toughest league this side of the state,” Osborne said. “East (Grand Rapids), Northview, Christian and Lowell. That is a murderers row. We knew it was going to be a tough game.”
The Yellow Jackets fell to 3-8 with the loss while Union improved to 8-3-2. Greenville is at East Grand Rapids on Thursday.