Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño goes up high to make a save during first half action in Colorado Springs on Friday, May 11, 2018. (PHOTO: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC)
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The difference for Las Vegas Lights FC between bringing home points and flying back empty-handed was as minimal as one could imagine.
Playing without defender and captain Joel Huiqui, the back line put on a strong performance, but a couple of near-misses on the offensive end and a late score by Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC sent Lights FC home still with 10 points on the USL Western Conference table.
Lights FC (2-2-4, 10 points) now has to turn around quickly with a busy week ahead, including matches in Las Vegas on both Wednesday and Saturday nights.
After spending the week in training off of last Saturday's frustrating 1-1 draw with Tulsa Roughnecks FC, the club reset its focus with an intense week on the training pitch.
That showed in the opening minutes, as Lights FC opened up with an aggressive approach on the attack, despite a lack of clean scoring opportunities.
On the defensive end, a new back line - with Juan Herrera-Perla making his first start of the season, and Marcelo Alatorre moving to the interior and wearing the captain's armband - didn't miss a beat. It was the team's first match without Huiqui, who was serving a 1-match suspension for Yellow Card Accumulation.
In the first half alone, both Herrera-Perla and Miguel Garduño made impressive plays on the ball to clear out scoring chances and stymie attacks. The defensive highlight of the first half came late, when off of a rebound, Alatorre himself cleared a ball between the posts just before it would have given Colorado Springs (4-5-2, 14 points) a lead at the half.
The deadlock continued into the second half, as it appeared Lights FC was potentially headed to its third consecutive draw result. Their two best scoring looks in the second half came sandwiched around the lone goal of the game - A score from in close in the 70th minute by Switchbacks FC's Luke Vercollone.
Just a bit earlier in the second half, Lights FC forward Sammy Ochoa had a one-on-one chance in front of the net, and his right-footed strike sailed high over the crossbar. Just moments after the Switchbacks FC goal, off of a corner kick, Garduño headed a ball downward which was tracking towards the right post. Ochoa, just inside the post himself, tried to help it in with his head, but instead the ball ricocheted wide.
On the night, the duels and possession numbers were near even between the two teams in a hotly-contested match. The difference was simply Colorado Springs creating more chances for itself, out-shooting Lights FC 16-9.
Despite Ricardo Ferriño again having an overall excellent night in the net, recording three saves and shutting down numerous crosses and other chances outside of the box, Lights FC failed to claim points in the standings for just the second time in eight USL matches.
A silver lining for Lights FC is that there isn't much time to dwell on the empty result, as it returns for a busy week at home.
Wednesday will mark the club's first match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as it will host USL Premier Developmental League outfit FC Tucson at UNLV's Peter Johann Soccer Field. A limited number of tickets for the match are still available at LightsFC.com/USOpenCupTix, with all tickets selling for $15.
Saturday night, Lights FC gets its second crack at Real Monarchs SLC, this time in the cozy confines of Cashman Field. That showdown with one of the Western Conference's top clubs kicks off at 8 p.m., with tickets starting at just $15 at LightsFC.com/SingleTix.