PDL: Pioneers Win Home Opener; Unveil Eusebio Statue
- Updated: May 22, 2016
LUDLOW, Mass. – It was a memorable May afternoon in a small, soccer-mad town in western Massachusetts on Sunday. And not just because of the unexpectedly pleasant break in a recent stretch of wet and cool weather.
Not long after unveiling a larger-than-life statue of Portuguese great Eusebio at its home park, the Western Mass Pioneers grabbed a late winner to secure a 2-1 victory over F.A. Euro at Lusitano Stadium.
The statue, which is an exact replica of the one stationed outside Benfica’s home park – Estadio da Luz – in Lisbon, formerly resided at Gillette Stadium. It was relocated to the Pioneers’ home park last week.
— Brian O'Connell (@BrianOConnell21) May 22, 2016
Following a pre-game ceremony to mark the statue’s new home in Ludlow, which boasts a dense Portuguese-American population, the Pioneers opened the account on a strike from Kyle Tomas in the 44th minute.
Euro equalized in the 80th minute on a Kevin Correa header, a goal that stood for all of three minutes thanks to Ryan Taylor’s go-ahead effort in the 83rd minute.
Carson D’Ambrosio collected seven saves to preserve the first win of the season for Western Mass.
A gritty and physical first half seemed destined to pass without a goal until Chris Roswess a pass ahead to Tomas, who slipped past two defenders in the area before tapping it through in the 44th minute.
The second half was marked by more physical play as six cautions were issued by referee Kali Langevin. The Pioneers themselves committed 17 fouls, more than double the number of their guests (eight).
Despite the choppy play, Euro found a way to equalize with 10 minutes to go. A Yusuke Kobayashi cross found Correa at the back stick to stun the home crowd.
But the hosts had the final say. On a quick break down the left, Chae Brangman sent a ball across to Taylor, who easily tapped it through to help his squad secure its first victory.
While the scoring may have concluded with Taylor’s strike, the fireworks were far from over. In stoppage time, Correa was issued two cautions only a minute apart from each other to leave the guests with 10 men at the end.
The Pioneers will return to action on Friday at Lusitano Stadium against GPS Portland Phoenix. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.