QUINCY, Mass. – Anthony Grant grabbed a hat trick as the Seacoast United Phantoms cruised to a 5-1 win over the Real Boston Rams on Saturday at Veterans Stadium.
Grant tallied in the 11th, 47th and 81st minutes, while Abel Perez and Trent Lougheed both aided the Phantoms with tallies in the 39th and 74th minutes, respectively. Willis Griffiths secured the Rams lone goal in the 52nd minute.
The Phantoms’ convincing win allowed them to share first place with Azul PDL, both of whom have 14 points. The Rams saw their modest two-game win streak snapped.
After claiming back-to-back road wins from GPS Portland Phoenix and the Westchester Flames, the Rams were intent to continue their recent run of success against Seacoast United, who entered the match unbeaten in their last four (2-0-2).
But the Phantoms refused to bow before the Rams, and immediately went for the jugular. Inside of 11 minutes, Pablo Agudo crossed it for Grant, whose snap header found the back of the net to stake an early lead.
Down, but undaunted, Real Boston went to work in search of a reply. Fabio Machado and Dominic Machado both found opportunities inside the 18, but their shots were both dismantled by timely blocks from onrushing defenders.
Fabio Machado gave the hosts their best chance at equalizing in the 36th minute when he ripped a shot from the left that Phantom goalkeeper Dominic Dimagio barely brushed away before it strayed wide of the far post.
The Phantoms, who played an excellent brand of counterattacking soccer all evening, caught the Rams off their heels in the shadow of halftime. Perez ran onto a through ball from deep in Seacoast United territory, circled keeper Keisel Broome, and slotted it through in the 39th minute.
Real Boston coach Hobie Hare inserted veteran Ruben Resendes in the hopes of stabilizing his team’s shape. However, that idea died when Grant blasted a shot that eluded Broome to widen the gap in the 47th minute.
Saddled with a three-goal deficit, the Rams knew that if they were going to mount a comeback, they’d have to do it one goal at a time. The first step came in the 51st minute when Griffiths punched a shot from the top of the box that fell through to finally give the home crowd something to cheer about.
The goals continued to flow following Griffiths’ strike – for the Phantoms, that is. From a throw-in deep inside the Rams’ end, Lougheed nodded it through to reclaim its three-goal lead in the 74th minute.
With two goals already in the bag, Grant made it a hat trick in the 81st after turning away from his defender, and quickly sliding it under substitute keeper Nick Thomson, who came on in the 66th minute after Broome collided with a Phantoms’ player and had to leave the match.
The Rams will look to bounce back at 7pm on Wednesday, when they host the Western Mass Pioneers at Veterans’ Stadium. The Phantoms will attempt to extend their unbeaten streak to six when they host the Flames on Saturday, Jun. 21 at Portsmouth High School. Kickoff is set for 3pm.