FALL RIVER, Mass. – Dean Williams scored the lone goal to lead the Taunton Eagles to a 1-0 win over Fall River Sports in the first leg of LUSA Cup competition at Billy Gonsalves Field on Saturday.
Williams scored in the 44th minute while Eagles keeper Sean Gonsalves made five saves to give the Eagles a crucial one-goal advantage going into Wednesday’s second leg in Taunton. Keeper Nellio Miranda came up with four saves for the hosts.
With a blustery wind at their backs, Fall River charged into Taunton territory early and often during the bulk of the first half. And they didn’t have to wait long for their first golden opportunity.
In the fourth minute, Alex Machado sent a free kick to the far post to an unmarked Ruben Jose. But Jose couldn’t get his forehead on it as the Eagles let out a collective gasp.
Another opportunity arrived in the 26th minute when Andre Antunes sent a through ball that split two defenders that put Jose in a perfect opportunity to score. That was until Gonsalves rushed over to poke it away and end the threat.
Fall River thought they’d scored the opener at the half hour when Machado sent free kick into the box, where Antunes brought it down and sent it wide to Jose Guardado, who tucked it under the bar. But the assistant referee flagged it offside, as the home crowd loudly jeered the call.
More jeers came in the 44th minute when Williams got a hold of a Eddy Lopes free kick and promptly slipped it past Miranda to sucker punch Fall River right before the half.
The hosts came out hungry for the second half, but with the Eagles packing the back, it became difficult to break through.
In the 53rd minute, Jose carried it down the right, then beat his mark and charged into the area. Once again, Gonsalves came off his line and boldly ripped the ball away.
Stoppage time brought one final chance for Fall River to equalize. In the 91st minute, Edmundo Juarez pounded a shot from distance that flirted with the far post before it ultimately skipped wide.
The clubs will meet for the second leg on Wednesday at 7pm at Shore Street Field.