Last second heroics secures FC Fargo win

WEST FARGO-The last time FC Fargo striker Jade Johnson played at Lodoen Field in West Fargo, he was sporting a West Fargo High School jersey.

WEST FARGO-The last time FC Fargo striker Jade Johnson played at Lodoen Field in West Fargo, he was sporting a West Fargo High School jersey. More than four years later, he returned and scored a last-second goal to cap off a successful inaugural season for his minor league soccer club on Saturday night.

Johnson received a cross from teammate Sunaj Beljulji in the 92nd minute, about 10 seconds before the final whistle was blown, and connected for a goal to give FC Fargo a 2-1 victory over the Stegman's Old Boys FC of Minneapolis.

"We generated so many scoring chances and we just couldn't put them away," Johnson said. "I just felt like it was coming, I knew we were going to do something, we fired up and we made an attacking change. ... To finish it with literally 10 seconds left is just an unreal feeling."

FC Fargo coach Tommy Nienhaus made a substitution in the second half to give his team an offensive boost. Beljulji, the substitute, immediately began to pressure Stegman's backfield but FC Fargo's attacks were thwarted numerous times.

In the 89th minute, Beljulji made a similar run toward the goal but fell over before he could cross it into the box. But Beljulji recovered beautifully from his earlier mistake to find Johnson in the box.

"My thinking was, 'it's tied 1-1, so what if we lose, it's the last game, let's go for the win,'" Nienhaus said. "We kept pushing and pushing and then finally one of the chances that we got, we scored.

"We like to make things interesting."

The team had plenty of opportunities in the first half to score, but several mistakes cost the team an early lead. Stegman's answered first in the 21st minute with a goal from midfielder Chris Cruz.

It took FC Fargo 40 minutes to respond with a goal from JP Soglo in the 61st minute. FC Fargo outshot Stegman's 17-10 but both teams were even with six shots on goal.

The win was special for Johnson, who had a lot of family in the stands cheering him on. The 2011 West Fargo High School graduate played college soccer at Jamestown University in Jamestown, N.D. for four years under Nienhaus.

"Walking into here again brought back a lot of great memories," Johnson said. "To do something like that at the end is great, it's an unreal feeling, it hasn't sunk in yet."

The win caps off a nearly perfect exhibition season for FC Fargo. The team finished 6-1, gave up five goals, and scored 24 goals. The team will join the American Soccer League-2 next season.

Goals: Cruz 21' (SOB), Soglo 61' (FCF), Johnson 92' (FCF). Saves: Hoedeman 4 (SOB), Harris 5 (FCF) Fouls: SOB 7, FCF 10. Yellow cards: SOB 2, FCF 0.