Boston, MA- Mass United’s quest for the 2013 USASA National Amateur Cup came to a disappointing end on Sunday with a 4-2 extra time loss to Mass Premier Soccer (MPS) at Madison Park High School. The Riders held a well-deserved 2-goal lead at halftime thanks to strikes from Alencar “Junior” Ventura and Moises Lopes, but were done in by missed connections and giving up two penalties, one of which resulted in a red card and both of which resulted in goals. MPS goes on to face Battery Park Gunners in the state final the weekend of December 1st.
The Riders struck first, when in the 18th minute Ventura escaped the defender after taking a pass down the sideline from left back Babacar N’Dour. Ventura had almost put United ahead a couple minutes beforehand but his shot hit the woodwork. United claimed a two goal lead just before the break after Lopes finished off a chance that began with a shot by Ventura, which was saved, but popped up to Denivaldo DaSilva. A bicycle kick attempt by DaSilva fell to Lopes, who drove it into the net. The half time whistle came moments later, all of the momentum seemingly with United.
MPS came out strong in the second half and wasted little time getting on the board, heading home a corner kick in the 51st minute. The MPSers then went on to carry play much of the rest of the way but were kept honest by a quick and aggressive United counter attack and kept from taking the lead by the impeccable reflexes of United keeper Steven Liechti. United used this counter to create several chances, including at least two from Ventura that were, in my mind as I watched, destined to be goals but for tremendous saves by the MPS keeper, Jeff Newman.
The equalizer came in the 81st minute on a penalty taken by John O’Reilly after a John Dumbuya foul in the box. Never a group to give up on anything, United continued to push in the final 9-plus minutes but were not able to tally the go-ahead goal in the final moments of regulation, most notably due to a tremendous save on Ventura in the waning minutes.
The first half of extra time was nearly at its end when MPS completed the rally and took the lead on a goal by Harris Smriko after a good stretch of ball movement left him alone at the far post. Only four minutes later another foul in the box brought with it a red card for United’s Daniel Antonio Jr. and a two-goal lead for MPS. The combination of the two-goal deficit and being a man down were too much for the Riders to overcome. Despite several opportunities to pull one back in the final 10 minutes, it simply was not to be.