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Behind the Scenes: rookie goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod helps send Rangers to Semifinals

MacLeod came up big in Swope Park’s first playoff game

Thad Bell

Even mother nature couldn't stop the Rangers from advancing to the next round of the USL playoffs.

The Rangers faced Didier Drogba and Phoenix Rising for the Western Conference Quarterfinal during an action-packed filled weekend. Both teams were able to play the first half of regular time before mother nature forced the game to be postponed till Sunday evening. The delay was well worth the wait.

In an thriller of a second half, rookie goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod saved the Rangers — who were on the brink of elimination — by producing multiple huge saves including a crucial save by denying Drogba's free kick in extra time to force the match into penalties.

"It's always a bit difficult when you have to stop and start, stop and start but at the end of the day, I think the guys were focused. [They] knew what had to be done and when we came in the next day, we just had to continue right where we left off and we did that pretty well I thought," said MacLeod.

The 23-year-old came up big by denying the opening penalty from Kevon Lambert to help the Rangers win 4-2 on penalty kicks and stamp their ticket to the USL Western Conference Semifinals.

"To be honest, I was just thinking just to try to get ahead. They were the ones shooting first, so I'm glad I was able to save the first one and calm some nerves. For goalkeepers, [...] you're not really expected to save any, so when you do - it just helps your team out a little bit."

This isn't the first time MacLeod has saved a PK for the Rangers. The Waterloo native made his official debut on August 5 and marked the special occasion by denying a crucial penalty kick from St. Louis to help the Rangers earn a draw.

While Adrian Zendejas has been serving on the senior team for the latter part of their season, MacLeod has stepped up in a big way. Since his debut, MacLeod has recorded five starts, 480 minutes played and seven goals conceded.

"I think all the goalkeepers whether its SKC or Swope [...] we have a really good group of goalkeepers here and we're all capable of going out and winning games and getting the job done. So it's nice to get the nod and get a run of games but I think all of us here are capable of getting games and doing well."

Looking ahead to Saturday's matchup with Sacramento Republic FC, MacLeod and company look forward to the challenge as they host the visitors at Children's Mercy Park for the Western Conference Semifinals:

"I think we're all excited. I think that something special is happening this year and we just want to continue this run to the finals, so we can finally win the cup."