Ballard FC wins USL2 National Championships in last-minute goal

Ballard’s local soccer team, Ballard FC, has secured the national title in just their second year of existence.

The team beat Lionsbridge FC 2-1 in the 93rd minute of Saturday’s match at Starfire Stadium, making Ballard FC the USL 2 National Champions.

Construction at Ballard FC’s home stadium in Interbay sent the championship game to Tukwila’s stadium, where 3,400 fans watched the Ballard team make history.

Here’s a recap of the game, from Ballard FC:

The first of many cards came in the 19th minute as Korzeniowski received a yellow after jostling with the Lionsbridge center-backs. Going into the match, the key battle was Korzeniowksi against the center-back pairing of Kirkwood and Materazzi. It turns out that was never going to be a battle for Korzeniowksi as he turned the backline all night and would get the opener just five minutes later.

After stealing the ball off the feet of Materazzi, Korzeniowski turned him and then roped a shot into the top right corner up and over the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Tyler Hogan to put the hosts up 1-0 in the 24th minute.

Frustrated by being down a score and their lack of possession, Lionsbridge’s physicality began to ramp up. In the 28th minute, Lionsbridge’s Kirkwood received his first yellow for coming through the back of Korzeniowksi. And then just nine minutes later, Kirkwood would be sent off as he earned his second yellow for a challenge on Ballard FC midfield, Declan McGlynn. The Lionsbridge coach would also receive a yellow in what was a chaotic few minutes for center referee Christopher Calderon.

The physicality from the Lionsbridge defense would continue with Materazzi and George Wyatt both receiving yellows right before the halftime break where the hosts would go into the locker room with a one-goal lead.

In the second half, Ballard FC came out hungry for a second goal with Declan McGlynn and Bailey Letherman both missing just narrowly wide. The first 30 minutes of the second half were marked by near misses for the hosts as well as a few Ballard FC yellow cards to stop Lionsbridge counters.

Lionsbridge would find an equalizer in the 80th minute from Josh Baker after he slotted the ball into the bottom left corner after a well-worked long throw-in. Just minutes later, Korzeniowksi would be sent off for his second yellow after a late tackle. The match was now ten against ten with the visitors having all the momentum.

The Ballard crowd rallied around the team and, despite the momentum going the other way, it was actually the hosts who were the most dangerous in the final five minutes of the match. And then, on almost the last kick of the match, Peter Kingston whipped in a free kick from 35 yards out. And just like the CFC match in June, a Kingston free-kick goal sent the crowd into pandemonium and gave Ballard FC the 2023 USL2 Title!

USL2 named midfielder Peter Kingston MVP of the final.

With the win, Ballard FC has taken the top USL2 US Open Cup spot which means they’ll compete in the 2024 edition in the spring.

Photos: Ballard FC