New England Soccer Today

Lions Survive Ejections to Win on PKs

Photo credit: Boston City FC

Boston City FC left Ludlow with a penalty kick victory over intra-state rival Western Mass Pioneers Wednesday to advance to the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. The game ended 2-2 after extra time, but the Lions came out the victor with a narrow 5-4 win in penalty kicks.

Expectations were high for Boston City in their tournament debut, but tensions turned out to be higher between two evenly-talented sides who produced an overly-physical match, ending with four red cards and a penalty shootout. Kevin Herrara scored the decisive penalty to send the Lions to the second round.

“We’ve each taken three penalties in practice this week and I’ve scored low in the right corner every time,” Herrera told the media after the match. “You don’t look at the keeper, or change your mind, you just have confidence that you’re going to score.”

The game started physical and slow with limited chances by both sides. After a scoreless first half, Mike Goncalves broke free from his marker down the left side of the box and unleashed a rocket to give the hosting Western Mass Pioneers a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute. The Pioneers nearly doubled the lead six minutes later when Matt Moore volleyed a shot off the left post.

However, Boston City were rewarded in the 77th minute when some quick passing in the attacking third led to a Jhonata Batista low placed shot from outside the 18-yard box goal to level the game and taking the 1-1 lead into extra time.

Similar to the second half, the Pioneers wasted no time in extra time, scoring in the first minute when Maxi Viera slid a low cross through the box which found Evan Burokas, who put the home team back on top.

Tensions began to boil over and Boston City defender Paulo Henrique shoved Pioneer midfielder Dan Fabian, who was holding the ball to slow the game down. Henrique was given a straight red, forcing the Lions to play a man down.

The Lions found an equalizer in the 106th minute, when a cross from Herrera was headed in by Kamali Webson, bringing the scores level at 2-2, which would hold through the end of extra time.

While there were no other goals after the Webson header, there were certainly fireworks.

Former Western Mass Pioneer and current Boston City captain Ronaldo Vieira was ejected in the 116th minute for a late challenge, putting the Lions down two men. Western Mass saw red minutes later in the 120th minute when Lions forward Kamali Webson fell to the ground, and Pioneers midfielder Maurico Coimbra ran over Webson, creating 10-on-9 soccer. Those sides did not last long, as Webson earned a second yellow shortly before the final whistle, sending Boston City with eight players going into shootouts.

Boston City were perfect on penalty kicks, while Lions keeper Vitor Scariot’s one save was all that was needed to give Boston City their first Open Cup victory and arguably their best win to date in their young franchise.

With Wednesday’s elimination, the Pioneers will focus on their PDL schedule, which kicks off this Saturday at Seacoast United Phantoms in Maine. The Pioneers will have their home opener on Sunday May 21st at 4:00 pm, when they host the Westchester Flames.

The victors of the match, Boston City FC, return to Malden for a three-game homestand, starting Saturday at 3:00pm. The Lions will host the Rhode Island Reds, in the first match between new signing Issac Addai and his former squad, with whom he won the 2016 Golden Boot.

The Lions will host their first U.S. Open Cup match in team history on May 17 at 7:00 pm at Brother Gilbert Stadium in Malden, Mass. Boston-based GPS Omens defeated GPS Portland Phoenix of the PDL in Portland, Maine by a final score of 2-0, setting up a lower-level Boston derby in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.

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