New Look Eleven Fall on Road Despite Late Penalty Kick Save from Goalkeeper Elliot Panicco
LEESBURG, Va. (Saturday, March 12, 2022) – Indy Eleven began its 2022 USL Championship regular season campaign this evening by falling 1-0 to Loudoun United FC at a frigid Segra Field in Northern Virginia. Goalkeeper Elliot Panicco kept Indy in the match with two saves – including a penalty kick stop late in the second half – but Indiana’s Team was unable to offset Loudoun striker Kimarni Smith’s tally in the 43rd minute.
New Head Coach Mark Lowry began his Eleven tenure by giving eight players their Indy debuts in the starting line-up, with captain and midfielder Neveal Hackshaw, midfielder Nicky Law, and defender A.J. Cochran serving as the only holdovers in the first XI.
The Championship’s return to a full 34-game schedule meant a return to March football, and with a steady 20 mile per hour wind driving the wind chill into single digits at kickoff both teams fought the elements while trying to gain a foothold in the match. Eleven midfielder Justin Ingram found the game’s first chance just 90 seconds in, but the Indianapolis native saw his shot from the edge of the area saved. In the 12th minute Loudoun got their first serious look through forward Azaad Liadi, who just missed the frame with his first time shot off Sami Guediri’s cross to the back post.
The match ground to a halt in the midfield for most of the next half hour, and while Indy Eleven found some measure of threat through a trio of crosses from the right flank, none resulted in shots. Loudoun finally started to create more chances of their own in the final ten minutes of the half, forcing Panicco into increased action starting with Ted Ku-DiPietro’s two-hopper from distance in the 35th minute.
It was Ku-DiPietro that did the heavy lifting on the game’s lone goal just minutes before halftime. The United attacker ended a 50-yard run from midfield by playing Smith into the left side of the area, from where he stroked a left-footed effort from inside 10 yards into the upper corner to push Loudoun into the lead at the break.
It was United still carrying the bulk of play coming out of the locker rooms, but Indy defender Mechack Jerome’s key tackle on Liadi inside the area in the 53rd minute stopped the most dangerous look for the home side in the opening minutes of the second half.
Lowry looked to spark his side with the insertions of midfielders Sam Brown and Jonas Fjeldberg just after the hour mark. Fjeldberg had a golden opportunity to score with one of his first touches a couple of minutes later, but his 15-yard shot was cleared off the goalline by Loudoun defender Hayden Sargis to keep Indy off the board.
The Eleven looked to have a reasonable shout for a penalty call in the 75th minute as forward Stefano Pinho went to ground under contact while leaping for a cross to the six that was eventually cleared out for a corner kick. The ensuing dead ball fell near the spot and at the feet of Cochran, but his low poke was smothered by United goalkeeper Luis Zamudio.
Instead, it was Loudoun getting the benefit of the referee’s whistle on a questionable point to the spot in the 78th minute following Brown’s shoulder-to-shoulder challenge on Tyler Freeman steps inside the area. However, justice was served when Panicco came up big on the ensuing spot kick, going low and right to stop Jackson Hopkins, who also sprayed a follow up chance wide just 15 seconds later on a recycled chance.
The Eleven’s comeback bid took a hit in the 89th minute when, after being whistled for a foul in the corner, defender Alex McQueen kicked out in the direction of United FC’s Jacob Greene. That put Indy down a man down across the ensuing four minutes of stoppage time, which included the pro debut of offseason USL Academy Contract signing and Brownsburg native Palmer Ault in the 93rd minute. Loudoun killed off the added time without much fanfare, keeping Zamudio’s clean sheet to earn the full three points.
Indy Eleven will continue its three-game road trip to begin the regular season next Saturday, March 19, with a visit to the defending Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay Rowdies. Kickoff at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla., is set for 7:30 p.m. ET for a match that will stream live on ESPN+.
Following the start of this year’s rivalry series with Louisville City FC on March 26 (7:30 p.m., ESPN+), Indy Eleven will return to the Circle City for its 2022 Home Opener at IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Saturday, April 2, against LA Galaxy II. Fans can secure tickets for that 7:30 p.m. kickoff and all 2022 matches at “The Mike” via a plethora of ticketing avenues – including single-game tickets, 2022 Season Ticket Memberships, discounted group tickets for parties of 10 or more, and expanded Premium Hospitality options – by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or calling 317-685-1100 during regular business hours.
USL Championship Regular Season
Loudoun United FC 1 : 0 Indy Eleven
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Segra Field – Leesburg, Va.
Indy Eleven: 0W-1L-0D, 0 pts.
Loudoun United FC: 1W-0L-0D, 3 pts.
LDN – Kimarni Smith (Ted Ku-DiPietro) 43’
IND – Neveal Hackshaw (yellow card) 20’
LDN – Jacob Greene (yellow card) 62’
LDN – Rio Hope-Gund (yellow card) 70
LDN – Grant Lillard (yellow card) 84’
IND – Aris Briggs (yellow card) 87’
IND – Alex McQueen (red card) 90’
LDN – Kimarni Smith (yellow card) 90+5’
Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2): Elliot Panicco; Noah Powder, A.J. Cochran, Mechack Jerome, Alex McQueen; Nicky Law (Raul Aguilera 90+3’), Neveal Hackshaw (captain), Justin Ingram (Jonas Fjeldberg 62’), Bryam Rebellon (Sam Brown 62’); Aris Briggs (Palmer Ault 90+3’), Stefano Pinho
IND substitutions: Tim Trilk (GK), Karl Ouimette, Jared Timmer
Loudoun United FC line-up (3-4-3): Luis Zamudio, Grant Lillard, Hayden Sargis, Rio Hope-Gund; Sami Guediri, Nicky Downs, Michael Gamble, Jacob Greene; Kimarni Smith, Azaad Liadi (Tyler Freeman 70’), Ted Ku-DiPietro (Jackson Hopkins 62’)
LDN substitutions: Luke Peacock, Jeremy Garay, Carson VomSteeg, Jace Clark, Houssou Landry