New England Soccer Today

ASL: W. Mass Still Unbeaten w/ Win Over Soul

Photo credit: David Henry/

Photo credit: David Henry/

LUDLOW, Mass. – Western Mass Pro Soccer Club became the lone unbeaten team in the league after they claimed a 2-1 win over the previously undefeated Ironbound Soul at Lusitano Stadium on Saturday.

Western Mass opened the scoring inside of four minutes on a goal from Mike Matera, while Christiano Francois equalized in the 20th minute. But Luke Perry gave the lead back to the Lusitanos for good in the 33rd minute.

The win put Western Mass at 5-0-2 (17 points), and remained atop the ASL table. Ironbound Soul dropped to 2-1-2 (8 points).

“It feels good,” Western Mass midfielder Maxi Viera said about his side remaining unbeaten. “It shows that what we’re working toward is working on the field. The team is strong, and we believe in what we’re doing.”

The hosts had no qualms announcing their intentions early thanks to Viera’s dynamic play. In the fifth minute, the creative midfielder crossed it for Will Daniels, who immediately found Matera near the top of the box. Matera wasted no time firing a shot that reached the back of the net to give his squad the opening goal.

While giving an early goal on the road can rattle a team’s psyche, the guests didn’t appear shaken by Matera’s strike. Instead of panicking and forcing the issue, the Soul strengthened their shape, comfortably strung passes together, ready to pounce on an opportunity – which is exactly what they did in the 20th minute.

After Ryan Adeleye crossed close to frame, a scramble ensued inside the area, as both sides battled to win the ball, which was handled by a Western Mass defender. A penalty was awarded, and Francois converted from the spot to level it.

Undeterred, the Lusitanos reasserted themselves, using high pressure to try to force a turnover inside the Soul’s defending third. The approach worked to perfection just after the half hour mark when Viera pilfered a pass near Ironbound’s box, and sent it for Matera. Defenders quickly closed on the goalscorer, but not before he deferred to an unmarked Perry, who blasted it through.

For Viera, who was the quintessential box-to-box midfielder on Saturday, it was second such occasion in which his persistence paid off.

“It was tough when you’re running and trying to get the ball and you have to go forward,” Viera said. “It’s hard, and you get tired. I tried to give it my best going forward and putting the ball on the ground like how we practice during the week.”

The guests came out of the break showed their intent to get back on level terms right after the break when Andres Berriel raced down the left, and ripped a shot that deflected wide of the far post. The subsequent corner kick nearly saw Adeleye score, but Warren Gross was quick to deny him.

Ironbound spent much of the second half trying to break down the wall that Western Mass built inside of their own end. The decision to drop numbers, and have Daniels put pressure on the opposing center backs, allowed the Lusitano XI to preserve the lead and pocket three points when the referee’s whistle blew thrice.

“We knew this team could play very well with the ball,” Viera said. “So we played our defensive game trying to counterattack, and just move along the wing going forward. So everything went as planned. It was a tough game, but we got the victory tonight.”

The Lusitanos, who’ve only conceded three goals during their fall campaign, will look to remain unbeaten for another week when they head south to face Evergreen Diplomats on Saturday, Oct. 18.

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