After he set up the first two goals Saturday for Forward Madison FC, it was only appropriate that Don Smart put home the last strike to seal a victory.
Smart scored in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time to wrap up the Flamingos’ 3-1 victory over Toronto FC II, setting the announced crowd of 3,806 at Breese Stevens Field into a frenzy at the final whistle.
The midfielder assisted on a first-half goal by Paulo Júnior and a strike by Carter Manley that put Forward Madison ahead for good in the 68th minute.
“Our goals were earned,” Forward Madison coach Daryl Shore said. “Kudos to the guys for staying after it.”
Smart wrapped things up by tapping in a feed from Paulo Júnior on a counterattack after FMFC foiled Toronto’s final push of a frenetic final 10 minutes.
Ryan Coulter kept the Flamingos in the lead late with two critical saves off Toronto free kicks. Terique Mohammed’s shot in the 90th minute appeared headed just inside the right post before Coulter pushed it wide.
Luca Petrasso’s curling try from the right side in the second minute of stoppage time went into the goalkeeper’s arms.
A minute before Smart’s clinching goal, Coulter got a hand on Adolfo Ovalle’s shot from the penalty area, but Forward Madison still needed defender Connor Tobin to clear the ball away from the goal line to preserve the lead.
In the first half, Coulter made a stellar right-hand save on a Jordan Perruzza 1-on-1 effort to keep the game scoreless.
“Every game he’s played in, he’s come up with a big save for us,” Shore said of Coulter.
Smart’s speed in an effort to corral a long ball from Paulo Júnior set up Manley’s blast from the right side of the area that gave Forward Madison a 2-1 lead.
Paulo Júnior played the ball for Smart, who sprinted for it and quickly reversed direction for some space. With it, he left the ball for the oncoming Manley, who met it with power.
“We saw that we had them on their heels so we had momentum, so we had to just keep going,” Smart said.
Forward Madison (2-2-1) stretched its unbeaten streak to three games.
After the Flamingos weathered a strong early push by Toronto (2-1-1), they scored their first home USL League One goal in the 33rd minute.
Smart delivered a ball from the right side of the penalty area. It sailed to Paulo Júnior for a tap-in just inside the back post before Toronto goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell got there.
The lead came after a good middle 15 minutes of the first half for FMFC; Toronto had the better of the opening quarter-hour with 62% of possession but no shots on target.
Coulter couldn’t deny Jacob Shaffelburg in the 43rd minute. The Toronto midfielder danced through Forward Madison’s defense on the right side of the area and slotted home a low left-footed shot for a 1-1 tie.
It was the first goal from open play against Coulter in four USL1 games. The two he allowed over his first three appearances both were on penalty kicks.
The Flamingos had changes to their back line with two back-line starters out. Defenders Christian Díaz, who suffered a groin strain in the second half last week, and Shaun Russell, who was sidelined in practice Thursday, missed the game.
Wyatt Omsberg returned from a foot injury, and Madison native Carl Schneider entered the starting lineup.
Forward Madison unveiled its pink alternate jerseys on Friday. The team will wear them for exhibition games and contests in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Flamingoes play at Milwaukee Bavarian SC in the 106-year-old competition’s first round on Tuesday.
Toronto FC II 1 0 — 1
Forward Madison FC 1 2 — 3
First half: FM — Paulo Júnior (Smart), 33:00. T — Shaffelburg (Dunn-Johnson), 43:00.
Second half: FM — Manley (Smart), 68:00; Smart (Paulo Júnior), 90:00+6.
Saves: T (Patterson-Sewell) 3, FM (Coulter) 4.
Possession: T .528, FM .472. Shots-on goal: T 16-5, FM 14-5. Corner kicks: T 13, FM 8. Fouls: T 7, FM 11. Offsides: T 0, FM 4.
Yellow card: Banks, FM, 89:00. Att. — 3,806.
Toronto FC II — Caleb Patterson-Sewell; Trevor Swartz (Terique Mohammed 70:00), Patrick Bunk-Andersen, Julian Dunn-Johnson, Dante Campbell; Noble Okello, Adolfo Ovalle, Luca Petrasso, Griffin Dorsey (Jordan Faria 75:00), Jacob Shaffelburg; Jordan Perruzza.
Forward Madison FC — Ryan Coulter; Carl Schneider (Jiro Barriga Toyama 81:00), Connor Tobin, Wyatt Omsberg, Carter Manley; Eric Leonard, Josiel Núñez, Jeff Michaud (J.C. Banks 66:00); Paulo Júnior, Don Smart, Mason Toye (Brian Bement 85:00).