|Seacoast United Phantoms’ Chris Tsonis battling MPS Portland in a match earlier this season.
PORTLAND, ME - The Seacoast United Phantoms will head to NY this weekend after defeating the MPS Portland Phoenix on Tuesday evening in the Northeast Division Championship 1-0.
The Phantoms travelled to Maine to face MPS Portland for the 2nd time in 3 days, this time missing two big pieces to their midfield. Eric Masi (hamstring) and Robbie McLarney (neck) would be sidelined for the match. Both players had a huge part in the Sunday victory over the Phoenix, with Masi causing trouble in the offensive end, and McLarney scoring the game’s only goal.
Seacoast started out strong with contributions from Steven Palumbo, Mike Adam, and Joey Barima helping to keep Portland on their heels early. Phantoms leading scorer Chris Tsonis capitalized on a misjudged ball by the Portland defense in the 35th minute, rounding the goalkeeper to take the 1-0 lead into an empty net (9th goal of the season). The score remained into the half, and just 10 minutes into the second half the game was delayed by over an hour due to severe lightning. The extended break was not kind to the Phantoms, as play resumed with a Portland free kick from just outside the box forcing Phantoms goalkeeper Jon Dawson to make a crucial save off the slippery surface to keep the Phoenix off the scoreboard. Portland kept on the attack with a strong possession game, pinning the Phantoms in their own half for periods of time.
The back four of Brad Hilton, Jordan Thomas, James Goodwin, and Ryan Dunn were able to outlast a barrage of pressure as Portland stuck to their direct style of play with an aerial attack to their tall strikers. Dawson was outstanding in the final minutes of the match making several saves, some from point-blank range, to secure the win and the shutout and hand Portland their only home loss of the season. Head coach Iain Scott was delighted with the effort, especially with the absence of both Masi and McLarney.
The Seacoast United Phantoms will make the road trip to Long Island on Thursday for an Eastern Conference semi-final match against the Long Island Roughriders (1st place Mid-Atlantic Division) on Friday evening. Only 16 teams remain in the PDL playoffs at this point. Winners of matches on Friday will play again on Saturday evening in the Eastern Conference Final for a chance to advance to the Premier Development League semi-finals in New Mexico next weekend.
Follow the Seacoast United Phantoms at www.seacoastunited.org/phantoms.