Home Madison Forward Madison earns draw with stoppage-time equalizer, still eliminated from postseason

Forward Madison earns draw with stoppage-time equalizer, still eliminated from postseason


Forward Madison fought back from a 2-goal deficit to tally a draw on Ryan Sierakowski’s stoppage time equalizer on Saturday, but still saw their hopes for a second playoff appearance in three seasons slip away.

The Mingos needed a win and a North Texas draw or loss to stay in the hunt, but North Texas’s 4-1 drubbing of New England Revs 2 made the result in Madison moot in terms of the playoffs.

Still, Madison head coach Carl Craig praised the team’s resilience in the draw Saturday as well as in Wednesday’s win over league leaders Omaha.

“Tremendous in terms of attitude and spirit,” Craig said following the match Saturday. “Maybe lacked a little bit in football. Couldn’t ask for more in terms of how went about it. Outstanding.”

Following a bright start for host Madison, Tucson’s Charlie Dennis played a ball forward to Kevin Rodriguez, who outpaced Madison right back Eric Leonard. As Rodriguez turned toward goal, Leonard attempted a challenge but caught just enough of Rodriguez’s ankle to spur referee Calin Radosav to point to the spot. Dennis took the ensuing penalty right down the middle to score his team-leading ninth goal and give the visitors the lead.

Sensing the need for an equalizer, Madison’s backline pushed forward, and were caught out by a clever through ball from Dennis to Rodriguez, who split the defense and beat Madison goalkeeper Phil Breno to double the lead in the 23rd minute.

Madison got one back just four minutes after the interval as Aaron Molloy teed up an Audi Jepson pass at the top of the box and skipped it through traffic and past Tucson keeper Wallace Lapsley.

Forward Ryan Sierakowski very nearly equalized in the 78th minute with a diving header of another Jepson cross, but it went just wide.

It was Sierakowski who did eventually level matters in the second minute of stoppage time. A poor clearance on a corner kick allowed Eric Leonard to head the ball to Jepson, who was able to put a low cross in to Sierakowski, who was able to tap it in with Lapsley out of position.

Madison hosts second-place Chattanooga next Saturday, and Craig said they’ll be looking for a result, despite being eliminated from playoff contention.

“In terms of the tournament it doesn’t mean anything, but in terms of supporters … yeah of course it means something,” he said. “We never go out not to win, simple as that. Last game at home, that’s what we’re here for … We play football. It’s what we do. It’s football, we got a crowd to play in front of, we got to show them that we care.”