New England Soccer Today

PDL: Phoenix Edge Pioneers on Late Goal

Photo credit: David Henry/

Photo credit: David Henry/

LUDLOW, Mass. – After knocking on the door all night, GPS Portland Phoenix finally broke through on a late Fabian Burnett goal to stake a 1-0 win over the Western Mass Pioneers on Friday at Lusitano Stadium.

Burnett came off the bench only minutes before he punched home the game-winner in the 76th minute, while goalkeeper Chris Knaub collected four saves to pick up the clean sheet.

With the win, the Phoenix extended their unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2), and are currently in second place in the Northeast Division on 11 points. The defeat doomed the Pioneers their second straight loss, and remain in a three-way tie for third place on four points.

Portland grabbed the majority of the attacking chances early, the first of which nearly put the hosts ahead early. Inside of two minutes, Nicholas Melville went down the left and sent it centrally for Quincy Appah, who’s header veered just wide.

While the Phoenix certainly found opportunities during the first half, the Pioneers held their own, forcing their foe to settle for long-range opportunities. Many of those efforts fell into the waiting grasp of Nick Zucco, who went on to collect eight saves.

Zucco’s strength between the sticks nearly set the stage for Western Mass to seize an early lead. In the 32nd minute, Alex Wrona crossed it inside for Marco Addonizio, who snapped his header over the bar.

Both sides were certainly looking for more after the break, but it was Portland who stepped on the accelerator on the first. In the 58th minute, James Smith’s corner found Joseph Hulme, who was left unmarked. But Hulme’s header smacked off the back post as the match remained scoreless.

Smith sliced through the Pioneers defense not long after, and was able to square up Zucco on a 1 v 1 situation. The Phoenix midfielder gave it a solid hit, but his effort steered clear of the far post in the 71st minute.

Finally, in the 76th minute, the Phoenix found the back the net. After taking it along the left, Smith spotted Burnett at the top of the box and sent it central, where the Portland midfielder took a touch and fired it out of the reach of Zucco to give his squad the lead.

The Pioneers sent numbers forward in the aftermath of Burnett’s goal, and nearly dug out the equalizer stoppage time. Brandon McCarthy was given space and time to pick his spot, but Knaub leaned to his right to deny McCarthy’s shot in the 93rd minute.

Portland will look to extend their unbeaten streak to six on Jun. 19 when they face AC Connecticut at Western Connecticut State University. Western Mass will attempt to put their recent struggles behind them on Jun. 19 when they host top-of-the-table Seacoast United Phantoms at Lusitano Stadium.

Leave a Reply