Michee Ngalina’s seventh goal of the season in the 84th minute vaulted the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to a 3-3 tie in Charlotte on Saturday night.
Ngalina took a pass from teammate Hadji Barry at the top of the box and blasted a shot past Independence goalkeeper Austin Pack to even things and help his club earn a point at American Legion Memorial Stadium.
While Switchbacks coach Brendan Burke was pleased that his team earned the point, he was frustrated — to put it mildly — that his club didn’t put more shots in the back of the net.
“That was two points dropped more than a point gained,” Burke said. “We were in a position to punch them and put the game out of reach early, We just didn’t finish. We didn’t bury ‘em. We found new creative ways to miss.”
Burke’s frustration was rooted in part from the stats that clearly showed the Switchbacks seemingly dominating all facets of the game. Colorado Springs owned possession 60% to 40%, shots on goal 15 to 14, shots on target 7 to 6, and had nearly 200 more passes than Charlotte.
“We’re still putting points on the board and every point is going to matter as we move down the stretch,” Burke said.
Ngalina and Barry also figured in the Switchbacks' first two goals. Trailing 1-0 in the 18th minute, Thomas Amang — making his second start of the season after signing with Colorado Springs last month — worked his way down the left side and found Barry up top just beyond the box. Barry booted the ball to the left of Pack for his USL Championship-leading 19th goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Ngalina found Andre Lewis up top and he kicked one past Pack from about 20 yards for a 2-1 Switchbacks lead. It was Lewis’ third goal of the season and Ngalina’s eighth assist, tying him for the league lead.
The Switchbacks (8-6-5, 29 points) had several more scoring opportunities in the first half, but couldn’t find the net. Amang hit the right post in the 34th minute and Sebastian Anderson — back after missing two games while playing with the Colorado Rapids — blasted a shot just wide of the post.
Charlotte (8-7-3, 27) was the aggressor for about the first 25 minutes of the second half. Its up-tempo play resulted in two goals for a 3-2 lead. The second goal came in the 71st minute when Irvin Para found an unoccupied net. Switchbacks keeper Sean Melvin left his post to assist on the play, but was not able to run back from the top of the box in time to contest Para’s shot.
The match in Charlotte put a cap on the Switchbacks playing five of the last six games on the road in five states. Colorado Springs went 3-1-2 in those games.
The Switchbacks are off until Saturday when they host Austin Bold FC at Weidner Field at 7 p.m. in a key Mountain Division match.
The Switchbacks aren’t home for long as they hit the road for a Sept. 4 match at New Mexico United.