New England Soccer Today

PDL: AC Connecticut Holds On to Beat Pioneers

Photo credit: David Henry/

Photo credit: David Henry/

LUDLOW, Mass. – AC Connecticut grabbed an early lead and held on to the very end to secure a 1-0 win over the Western Mass Pioneers on Friday at Lusitano Stadium.

Daniel Baccielo scored in the fourth minute while Steve Sasso collected 10 saves to preserve the victory, as well as his first clean sheet of the season. The Connecticut didn’t escape completely unscathed, though, after a collision with George Siotis opened up a gash under his left eye.

“He had a great game for us,” Connecticut coach Shaun Bailey said. “(Western Mass) created a lot of chances, and fortunately, we had Steve Sasso in goal – he was very good.”

Those chances came in waves against the Connecticut goalkeeper, but not before his teammates gave him a lead to work with early on.

On a well-worked passing sequence inside the Pioneers’ end, Miguel Carneiro cut a pass inside the box for Raphael Carvalho, who quickly found Baccielo unmarked on the doorstep. The Connecticut forward wasted no time putting it past keeper Nick Zucco to put the guests ahead early.

But with an early lead in their possession, Connecticut quickly went from the hunter to the hunted with nearly the entirety of the match remaining. And holding onto that advantage proved to be no easy task.

Four minutes after Baccielo’s strike, the Pioneers came to close to equalizing when Daniel Casey sent a long ball over to Marco Addonizio, who chased it down, beat his defender, and went into the box keen to equalize. He was quickly thwarted by Sasso, who reacted quickly off his line to deny the Pioneers’ forward.

Sasso was called upon to plug another leak when Addonizio attempted to tuck through a Zachary Grady cross at the near post. But the Connecticut keeper was there to deny him as the Pioneers continued to contemplate how they might be able to level the affair.

Ryan Taylor tested Sasso not once, but twice, on a pair of chances midway through the first half. On his first opportunity, Taylor nearly chipped Sasso at the far post only to watch the shot stray wide of the far post. Moments later, Addonizio fed Taylor inside the left edge of the box, where Sasso raced over to smother Taylor’s shot.

Despite falls short on handful of occasions during the first half, there were plenty of reasons to believe they’d secure the equalizer after the break. They threatened their adversaries’ backline, and seemed intent to erase the deficit.

“We carried the play, the possession, and the total shots,” Pioneers coach Dennis Gomes said. “We were playing well, and I think the guys saw that, as well.”

More opportunities developed in the second half, as Addonizio fired a long-distance blast that escaped an outstretched Sasso before sailing wide of the far post in the 55th minute. Another ample chance arrived in the 73rd minute when a Addonizio found Taylor inside the box only to watch his effort – which beat Sasso – ushered away by Sean Weir right inside the six yard box.

In stoppage time, Siotis chased down a ball into the box, where he ran into Sasso in pursuit. The collision left Sasso bloodied, and Siotis was issued a straight red card. Moments later Connecticut walked off the pitch with its first win of 2015 in tow.

“We got started very quickly, which is something we’d like to build upon,” Bailey said. “But Western Mass is a very good team, so it was a situation in which we had our backs against the wall. When you’re up one-nil inside four minutes, and you can keep it nil, it shows the team knows what it’s doing, and they worked really hard to get it done.”

Western Mass won’t have to wait long for a chance to redeem itself with their next match on Saturday at the Westchester Flames. Connecticut returns to action on Sunday at Seacoast United Phantoms.

One Comment

  1. Gareth

    June 1, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Siotis wasn’t hurt at all right?? Only 20 stitches to his upper lip no big deal. The goalie got to the ball first then elbowed Siotis’s face. If anyone was worthy of red card it was the keeper. What a joke of referee call.

Leave a Reply