New England Soccer Today

Phoenix Grab Last-Gasp Win

The GPS Portland Phoenix came out on top of the Western Mass Pioneers, 3-2, in a game with more twists than a Hollywood drama on Sunday afternoon at Deering High School’s Memorial Field in Portland.

The Pioneers (3-3-5, 14 points), fresh off an upset win over the then first place Ottawa Fury on Saturday night, looked ready to continue their run of good form against the Phoenix (7-3-1, 22 points), who needed a win to take over first. Just 24 minutes into the match Patrick Ryan put the visitors ahead off an assist from Jordan Branco and the Pioneers’ Northeast Division leading defense looked set to take over from there, holding Portland scoreless till halftime.

But the Phoenix weren’t about to let an opportunity to move into first slip away as they look to win their second straight PDL Northeast Division title. Sean Hoek would equalize with his fifth goal of the season just four minutes into the second half off an assist from Joel Theissen.

Itode Fubara then put the home side in the lead in the 62nd minute with his third goal off the year, off an assist from Blaike Woodruff.

As the match wore on, it appeared Portland would hold on for the win, but the drama was far from over. In a match that saw a combined 25 fouls – 18 from the Phoenix – and six combined yellow cards, evenly split, a 90th minute infraction looked to have proved the most costly as the Pioneers earned a penalty kick. Chris Pereira, a native of Ludlow, Mass, and a rising sophomore at Southern New Hampshire University, converted the spot kick to knot the score at 2-2.

While the Pioneers seemed to have grabbed a hard earned road point in a match they outshot their opponent 10 to 9 and forced Portland’s Terrance Dietrich into 6 saves compared to just two for the Pioneer’s Warren Gross, the match had one last twist to it. Babson College’s Eric Anderson, a little used substitute for Portland who entered the match 80th minute, found a last-minute winner to give the Phoenix the 3-2 win they needed to move into first place in the Northeast Division.

The Phoenix, looking to increase their lead in first place, returns to action on Wednesday, June 27, against the Worcester Hydra at Worcester’s Foley Stadium at 7pm. The Pioneers travel to New Hampshire to face the Seacoast United Phantoms on Thursday, June 28, at 7pm.

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