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Reno 1868 FC falls to Swope Park Rangers in seven-goal match

Reno 1868 falls to Swope Park

RENO, Nev. – Reno 1868 FC fell to Swope Park Rangers on Saturday 4-3 in the opening match of the 2018 season.

In front of 3,224 fans and in snowy conditions, Reno duked it out with the 2017 Western Conference Champions from the start.

Both teams fought first half white-out conditions as Reno claimed the first goal in Saturday night’s match.

Reno’s first goal of the season came from a familiar face, 2017 USL Rookie of the Year and Assist Champion Chris Wehan, who was down on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes.

Wehan’s goal in the 23rd minute (assisted by Brian Brown) gave Reno a 1-0 halftime lead as conditions appeared to clear up.

However, after the second half began, the snow kept coming and so did the goals from both clubs. Diego Rubio gave Swope a 2-1 lead after a goal in the 51st minute. Reno forward Brian Brown tied up the match at 2-2 in the 60th minute off an assist by forward Antoine Hoppenot.

Swope forward Hadji Barry broke the stalemate in the 83rd minute after forward Kharlton Belmar found him on the inside corner of the box to take a 3-2 lead.

An own goal in the 89th minute by Swope Park Rangers made for a thrilling finish as both teams entered stoppage time tied at 3-3.

But it was Barry who returned the favor to Belmar in the 92nd minute to help Swope Park walk away with a 4-3 win on Saturday.

Reno will seek its first points of the season next Saturday (March 24) in Las Vegas as the club takes on new, in-state rival Las Vegas Lights FC on a two-match away swing.

Reno returns home March 31 to face a Didier Drogba-led Phoenix Rising FC at 4 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field. The match is slated to be Drogba’s final match in Reno as the international superstar is retiring at the end of the season. Tickets for that match can be purchased at Reno1868FC.com/tickets.

Head Coach Ian Russell

On the match…

“Just for us it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t necessarily our defenders either, it was giving the ball away to bad areas that lead to goals. We just have to be sharper, sharper on the ball, sharper everywhere to limit their chances.”

On attacking options…

“ I think we are going to get chances, we have a lot of attacking players. We have to be better with the ball in areas in the midfield where when you turn it over it puts us in dangerous areas in dangerous spots. Not surprised by the amount we created, but I am surprised by the chances we gave up. we gave up a lot of chances.”

On defensive depth…

“We are going to watch the film and there are some defensive shape stuff that wasn’t good enough in my opinion that we are going to work on.”

On the return of midfielder Chris Wehan…

“Always good to have Chris back. He’s a quality player and is doing well in San Jose. So for him to get that goal, was good for us.”

Forward Brian Brown

On Saturday’s loss going into the next match…

“It’s an extra spark for us. The loss is a good motivation for us going to Las Vegas and doing whatever it takes to win.”

On chances and shots…

“We create chances. Hoppenot creates lots of chances. We just have to finish more.”

On finishing…

“It’s something we’ll just have to work on headed into our next match.”

Midfielder Chris Wehan

On conditions…

“ It was really tough conditions to play in. The first game of the season is always kind of hectic to play, because it’s the first real game. I know it’s tough for the guys and for the group to have certain guys come down. I noticed last year it was hard to gel with the Quakes, and I haven’t been with them training during preseason. They are super welcoming and it was tough conditions and we weren’t our best.”

On scoring a goal…

“It was good, my goal was to come in and do what I can to help the team. It felt good to get on the scoresheet.”

On mix of San Jose players and Reno players…

“It wasn’t till 5 or 6 games into the season until we started to click with the San Jose players. It won’t take that long this year. I think we will get the give going depending on who is coming down.”

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