The Colorado Rapids Unified team battled their way through a 4-2 loss to the LA Galaxy Unified team at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night. Following the Rapids first team match, the Unified team took to the pitch to play two 25 minute halves to end their four game season.
“We came in and we played hard. It was fantastic how our team passed. We looked for cross balls, we stepped up and I think we played exceptionally well tonight,” said Molly Underly, head coach of the Rapids Unified team.
The tenth year Rapids Unified team took the pitch with confidence as they squared off against the Galaxy on their home field.
The first 10 minutes of the match were marked by a solid defensive effort from the Rapids Unified backline, which was led by Louie Persico and Zech Steinmetz. Persico put his body on the line in the 4th minute of the match, making a goal line clearance to prevent the Galaxy from an early goal.
Minutes later, Aiden Ramirez found the Rapids first scoring opportunity, placing a shot en route toward the far post that fell just wide. Ramirez would go on to lead the team’s offense with three shots alongside Trace Ho-Tran who captured his first brace of the season in Sunday night’s match.
“We had a fun season even though we lost tonight. I just had a great season with my team and my opponents as well,” said Rapids Unified player Aiden Ramirez.
The first half ended in a 2-0 lead for the Galaxy, however a determined Rapids Unified team did not let their fight die heading into the second half.
In the 31st minute, Ho-Tran made a blistering run toward goal and slid one past the Galaxy keeper to capture the team’s first of the night. His offensive momentum did not end there as he secured the team’s second goal in the 45th minute off of a cross from Ramirez.
“I had the ball and I was like, “Go Trace. I got you’, and I passed and he scored. I was very happy to get that assist,” said Ramirez.
The second half continued on with crucial saves from goalkeeper Colin Underly, who recorded two saves on the night. With the team down by two, Trevor Walsh showed his aggression in the box, making two big defensive plays to shut down the Galaxy attack.
The final scoring opportunity of the night came in the 49th minute when Ho-Tran found space in the box to deliver a cross to Olivia Stoolman. Stoolman struck the ball with pace but her far post shot was centimeters off from earning the Rapids their third goal of the night.
The team ended the night with an emotional farewell as the Rapids Unified team was doused with love from Rapids and Galaxy fans alike. After four hard fought matches, the team rounded out its season on a high with partners and players celebrating their accomplishments and success under the lights of Dignity Health Sports Park.
“The greatest thing about this program is that our Unified team is impacting professional athletes’ lives and vice versa,” said Underly. “That is not something that you can make up or write in a book, you have to really experience what that means. I think that is so powerful, the message we are spreading about inclusion and how it truly is a unified front.”