SANDY, Utah (Tuesday, September 7, 2021) – The Real Salt Lake Special Olympics Unified Team topped RSL Unified Alumni 4-3 in its first and only match of the 2021 season at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night.
“Coming together and having this opportunity to have the first team experience was great. Having partners and athletes out on that pitch working together as a team, it all came together tonight and it was amazing,” RSL Unified Head Coach Jenna Holland said.
The RSL Unified Alumni began the match on the front foot, resulting in a shot on goal from forward Wes Liddle, but his shot was saved by RSL Unified goalkeeper Elizabeth Jensen. A minute later, Alumni midfielder Jermiah Petroff followed up a spill in the box and scored on a right-footed shot to open the scoring and give RSL Unified Alumni the 1-0 lead. RSL Unified found its breakthrough in the 16th minute on a shot from distance from midfielder Quinn Butler to level the match 1-1. Just before the half, midfielder Ameera Al-Maksosi rocketed a long-distance shot into the top left corner of the goal to give RSL Unified the 2-1 lead at the break.
Forward Kylie Wilson got the second half started with a right-footed chip-shot over the goalkeeper to extend RSL Unified’s lead to 3-1 in the 26th minute. But in the 35th minute, Liddle completed a run down the left side of the pitch with a cut back to his right, burying the right-footed shot into the back of the net to claw one back for RSL Alumni and bring the scoreline to 3-2. After winning a free kick near the box in the 38th minute, midfielder Sophie LaForge sent the ball into the box and connected with Butler to give RSL Unified the 4-2 lead. In the dying moments of the match, RSL Alumni midfielder Eleanor Standifird fired a shot into the left side of the net and the match ended 4-3 in favor of the RSL Unified Team.
“It was a fantastic game, it was a very close scoreline. To be able to see both teams give such a fantastic effort in front of this atmosphere was tremendous,” Director of Community and Player Engagement Kyle Schroeder said.
The RSL Unified Team is part of Unified Sports and the Special Olympics that elect to participate in the Major League Soccer Unified Exchange program. The alumni team was made up of 12 former members of the RSL Unified Team and was led by Head Coach Bryan Karren and Assistant Coaches Rylee and Sean Johnson.
Tonight’s contest was the lone match of the season for the RSL Unified Team due to scheduling issues related to the current global pandemic.