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Thunder Start Strong, Draw in Home Opener

The Sioux Falls Thunder kicked off their home opener with an 8th-minute goal against the Dakota Fusion on Saturday, May 7th at 7 pm. A warm evening with high winds led to varied play among the halves, which ended in a draw.

The Thunder opened aggressively, with several chances inside five minutes. The critical moment came in the 8th minute, where a scramble inside the box resulted in Thunder forward Samuel Baraka tucking the ball into the bottom right corner off a pass from Tyler Limmer. This lead would last exactly 20 minutes, as Fusion attacker Bosquez would send a wind-aided strike into the top corner past Thunder keeper Zeke Foltz. Despite set piece chances from both sides, the half would finish uneventfully apart from a yellow card per side.

With the wind against them, the Fusion played conservatively in the second half, controlling the ball while the Thunder used the wind to their advantage to send passes over the defense. Both sides exchanged minor chances until a critical moment in the 60th minute. A drawn foul inside the 18 put a Fusion player on the penalty spot. The first shot sent Foltz the wrong way, but was withdrawn as another Fusion player had stepped into the box before the shot. After a reset, a penalty kick was up again, but Foltz defied the near-certainty of a PK goal, saving the shot and the day.

Two more yellow cards for the Thunder as the clock ticked through the 70s spurred them into action in the closing ten. A win column seemed in sight as Stevenson Storm sent a slicing pass through to fellow forward Limmer, but the chipped shot sent over the charging Fusion keeper was cleared off the line by a defender.

The Fusion dug in, putting pressure in the closing minutes and setting up a free kick outside the box in the 86th minute. A strong header drove the ball across the far side and into the net, but a Fusion foul on the play negated a goal for the second time that evening. The game closed with a mark in the tie column for both teams.

"For the first game, and adding a lot of new personnel, I thought we gave ourselves chances to win," head coach Ryan Beier said about the game. "The windy conditions made it very tough on both teams to settle into any rhythm. We have high expectations, and look forward to building on this first game."

The Thunder will travel to Rochester, Minnesota Saturday, May 14th to play Med City before returning home the next week to face Minneapolis City.

*Photo credits to Rylee Fehrenz

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