Ludlow, MA- Mass United faced the Western Mass Pioneers in Ludlow, MA. on Sunday, coming up short in the Commonwealth Derby, 5-3. The match was part of an all-day soccer celebration in honor of the re-opening of the newly-turfed Lusitano Stadium. United would like to congratulate the Pioneers, Gremio Lusitano, and the residents of Ludlow for coming together to make this New England soccer gem viable for years to come.
United fell behind 2-0 as the Pioneers maintained possession for much of the first half but were able to pull one back just before the break when Alencar “Junior” Ventura sent a low cross into the box from the left side which was drilled into the top left corner by OCane Williamson. The Riders carried that momentum with them into the second half but were unable to find an equalizer before the Pioneers made it 3-1 in the 58th minute after a terrific save by United keeper Nick Gardner could not be cleared by the defense. United again pulled back to within one only three minutes later when Ventura, who was one of United’s bright spots all afternoon, took the ball from a defender and blasted a low shot that the keeper could get a hand on but not stop.
As United continued to push for a third goal, the Pioneers were forced to work the counter attack, which they did with deadly efficiency in the 70th minute with a lovely short chip shot over Gardner who had no choice but to come out and try to force the shot off target. The Pioneers struck once more in the 73rd minute, putting the match out of reach. As always however, United does not give up. Ventura capped off his afternoon with another goal in the 88th minute, giving him two goals and an assist on the day.