FC Wichita shuts out Springfield Athletic for first USL League Two win

by Charles Chaney

WICHITA, Kansas — It's been a long time coming but FC Wichita picked up a thrilling 1-0 victory and three points on Saturday night over expansion side, Springfield Athletic. 

The win is the first win in the USL League Two since the club decided to step up a level from the previous NPSL. 

"These are good people,"  FC Wichita's men's head coach Gonzalo Carranza said. "Guys are gonna fight for it for us for our club and for our town."

Blake Arndt made up for his near goal from earlier in the match in the 63rd minute, slipping it by the keeper on a 1-v-1 situation for the game's only goal. 

"Blake almost didn't start this game," Carranza said. "We had been texting and he was asking me what he needed to do to start. Then, we had an injury. I told him that occasion is tomorrow."

Arndt made the best of it, playing as the center forward, the Fort Hays State scoring machine almost broke one open in the first four minutes of the game. He was able to get behind the back line but it just missed. 

He wasn't going to do that again. 

On his second attempt, he took a pass that was placed right at his feet by João Neves and just pushed it by the keeper. With the pressure from the back line catching up, Arndt, who has played with FC Wichita since 2019 showed great control. 

Neves came on for FC Wichita Veteran, Thomas Wells, in the 58th minute. For Wells, a Tulsa Hurricane and former Kapaun Mt. Carmel Crusader, appeared in his first match in almost three years after dealing with a knee injury. He had two shots on goal and looked like the Wells we came to remember. 

"We trust him," Carranza said of Wells. "Now a days, he's a senior here and serves as an inspiration and now as an example to the young guys."

Springfield really never pressured in the second half outside of the a shot that rang off the post in the 73rd minute. The boys in red did a great job of clearing the back line and limiting opposing attacks from getting position. 

The Florida Gulf Coast keeper, Wyatt Kistner had two big saves in the first half. He was quick out to challenge any oncoming offensive attack from Springfield Athletic.

It's hard to ignore the frustrations of last season but even during the first match of this season, you could tell it was a different environment and a different appreciation for what FC Wichita has built. Coach Carranza corralled some former players to say some words of encouragement and you could tell it made a difference. 

"Our club is different," Carranza said. "Before the game we had videos sent from former players and they're saying men like let's fight like you guys represent us. Tears comes to my eyes because this reason."

FC Wichita and Springfield Athletic will meet again on Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. A new club and now a beaten club, FC Wichita knows that Springfield Athletic will be just as tough on Saturday as they were yesterday.

"We still have things to work on this week to be better," Carranza said. "Getting better every day in every practice. That's what we are about."