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Kay Banjo excels in first pro start against STLFC

By Anthony Picardi, 04/13/17, 1:15PM EDT

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An unusual suspect set up Kay Banjo just outside of the 18-yard box.

Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Devala Gorrick botched a pass attempt and instead of finding a teammate wearing Green and White, he connected with an opposing forward donning the Black and Gold.

With the one-on-one chance against Gorrick, Banjo dribbled the ball inside the penalty area and released a shot on the ground past the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper into the corner of the net.

“I wasn’t expecting that, but the high-pressure worked,” Banjo said. “It just came to my feet and I had to finish that because that’s early. We have to set the tone.”

Banjo’s first goal of his professional career came in the 5th minute of the Riverhounds’ (1-2-1) 2-1 loss against Saint Louis FC (3-0-1) on Wednesday. After his tally, the UMBC product shared the moment with his teammates, being chased down and hugged.

“They’ve talked to me throughout the whole season,” Banjo said. “I’ve been unlucky with scoring. I get my chances, but I just happen to not finish them. I get very unlucky, but today, it was my day.”

Banjo had an opportunity to collect the second goal of his career a bit later in the match. In the 20th minute, he blasted a shot that beat Gorrick, but the ball clanged off the post.

The forward finished the game with three shots and one shot on goal. This was his fourth appearance this season and his first professional start.

“Kay has been really effective for us in training and games, so I felt good about [starting him],” head coach Dave Brandt said.

Due to a groin injury to defender Rich Balchan, Jack Thompson slid back from the midfield to the backline and Kevin Kerr fell back from the frontline to the midfield. This opened up a spot for Banjo to play up top with Corey Hertzog.

“You just have to be ready at any point,” Banjo said. “It’s not a matter of starting or coming in. You just always have to have an impact on the game.”