New England Soccer Today

Late Goal Boosts Pioneers’ Postseason Push

Photo credit: David Henry/sweetdogphotos.com

LUDLOW, Mass. —Just when it was beginning to look like the Western Mass Pioneers would have to settle for a point against AC Connecticut after holding a 2-0 halftime advantage, starting defender Matt Moore came to the rescue for the home team.

Moore, who’s from Keighley, England, scored his first goal of the 2017 campaign in stoppage time giving the Pioneers an exciting 3-2 victory on a damp night at historic Lusitano Stadium on Friday.

“We began to relax a little bit during the final twenty minutes of the match and they were able to score two goals against us,” Moore said. “It would’ve been very disappointing if we had to settle for a tie, but I’m very glad that I was able to help out my team tonight.”

Moore, who started 11 games for the A.I.C. men’s soccer team as a graduate senior last fall, has only scored two goals since joining the Pioneers at the start of the 2016 season.

“It was a little bit of déjà vu for me,” Moore said. “The only goal that I scored last season was also in a home match with AC Connecticut, which was a 4-1 win.”

Moore described his latest goal, which was scored on a corner kick.

“The ball was chipped into the box by Alex Wrona,” he said. “It skimmed off a player’s head and it bounced out to me on the left side. I then hit a half volley shot into the far corner. Once the ball left my foot, I knew it was going into the net. I then turned around and celebrated with the boys on the bench.”

The Blues only had ten players on the field at that point, as midfielder Trevor Babin had received his second caution from the referee in the 84th resulting in a red card.

Pioneers head coach Federico Molinari was pleased with the final outcome of Friday’s home match, but he wasn’t very happy with his team’s second half performance.

“A win is certainly much better than a tie, but we’re still having a lot of trouble finishing the game,” Molinari said. “We now have to play another game on Sunday and I wasn’t able to rest many of the players because they scored two goals against us. We had a lot of scoring chances that we missed and we can’t afford to miss those chances. It’s unacceptable and it’s also very frustrating.”

The last second victory over Connecticut helped the Pioneers (6-2-2) keep pace with the Long Island Rough Riders in its battle for second playoff spot in the PDL’s Northeast Division. The Rough Riders (6-1-3), who posted a 1-0 win against GPS Portland on Friday, remained in second place with 21 points.

They’re one point ahead of the Pioneers, who are in third place. The Seacoast United Phantoms (9-1-2) are in first place with 29 points.

The Pioneers could trade places with the Rough Riders if they’re able to beat FC Boston (5-4-2) in another very important home match on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is slated for 4:00 p.m.

The first two meetings of the season between FC Boston and the Pioneers, which were both played at Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass., ended in 1-1 draws. Boston, who’s also in the playoff hunt, defeated the Pioneers, 2-1, at Lusitano Stadium last July.

“The game against FC Boston on Sunday is going to be another very big game for us,” Moore said. “We really should have won both games that we’ve played against them so far this season. We definitely owe them one. Hopefully, we can get another victory in that match.”

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