The USL League One Goal of the Week nominees included two golazos from well outside the penalty box – one from Tormenta’s Marco Micoletto and one from Nicholas Firmino of Union Omaha, a scorching volley seen on national TV.
But it was a tap-in of a rebound that took home Goal of the Week honors in a landslide, likely because of the goal’s importance rather than its technique.
The goal scored by Derek Gebhard came two minutes into stoppage time to break a 0-0 deadlock and win Forward Madison’s home opener.
“That one is for the fans!” Gebhard said in a text message after the final vote tally was announced Thursday. “Wouldn’t have won (Goal of the Week) without the fans’ reaction!”
Madison supporters reacted with euphoria because it wasn’t just any goal and wasn’t just any win — it sealed a victory in the Mingos’ first home game at Breese Stevens Field in more than 19 months.
— USL League One (@USLLeagueOne) May 20, 2021
In the inaugural season in 2019, Breese Stevens gained a reputation as an exciting place to play, and Forward Madison led the league in average home attendance, with more then 4,400 fans per home game that year. The club played its home matches in Wauwatosa last summer due to health restrictions in Dane County, and Saturday’s home opener was limited to just over 1,500 fans.
It was Gebhard’s first game at Breese Stevens Field, and he said the excitement lived up to the hype.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things before I came, that they’re some of the best fans in the league, or even just in lower division soccer in general,” Gebhard said in an interview on the Talkin’ Flock podcast. “To actually get to experience it and be a part of it and score the goal in that game and get the energy from the crowd afterward was really amazing.”
Despite dominating possession and unleashing 17 shots, the Flamingos were unable to break through until the 92nd minute, when midfielder Aaron Molloy floated a pass forward to striker Jake Keegan. Keegan put a pass across the face of the goal, which North Carolina goalkeeper Jake McGuire punched away. But the rebound fell toward Gebhard, who punched it in from close range before celebrating with ecstatic fans in the Flock End.
Gebhard’s winner got 65% of the vote for Goal of the Week.