Real Monarchs might be well and truly out of USL playoff contention, but for the first time in a competitive match, they defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks, the team that quickly became a noted rival after playing with stunning frequency.
It was a nervy, tense affair that looked like it was going to slip away from the hapless Monarchs, but some grit, determination, and a whole lot of luck saw the home side win the bout 2-1 on two Emery Welshman goals.
Welshman, Monarchs' second-leading goalscorer behind Uruguayan striker Max Rauhofer, found the net in both halves, with his first to cap off some strong creative play; it was an opportunity he took with assured footing.
Ricardo Velazco crafted the goal out of a good attacking moment, bursting down the side of the box before sending a straightforward — but deadly — diagonal ball into the feet of Lucas Baldin, who had to stretch to get anything on the ball. Baldin's stretch, though, saw the ball bounce perfectly to Welshman, who took a neat touch before putting Monarchs in the lead.
In archetypal Monarchs fashion, that lead didn't last for long. Switchbacks immediately took Monarchs took to the sword, and a couple corners created some defensive disorganization, and while goalkeeper Eric Osswald made a nice save to keep one shot out, the remaining player was left all by his lonesome, and just like that, the score was level with only stoppage time remaining in the half.
It was nearly a mirrored play that won the match for the Monarchs, with Velazco again breaking down the side of the box and feeding Lucas Baldin. This time, though, Baldin started a bit deeper, dribbled into the box, and found Welshman with a smart, cutting pass for the striker. Welshman stretched to reach the final ball, but he reached it with a sliding shot and scored to put Monarchs up 2-1.
Despite a strong push from Switchbacks, the Monarchs retained the three points, and in doing so, found their third win of the season. It might be a case of "too little, too late," but at the same time, there's something invigorating seeing this team finally finding on-field success after so much positive play all year.