New England Soccer Today

USOC: Mass Premier Edges RI, Advances

Reds midfielder Jason Garcia gets set for a free kick in the first half of Sunday's U.S. Open Cup contest against Mass Premier Soccer. (Photo: Brian O'Connell)

Reds midfielder Jason Garcia gets set for a free kick in the first half of Sunday’s U.S. Open Cup contest against Mass Premier Soccer. (Photo: Brian O’Connell)

CRANSTON, R.I. – In a match that pitted youth against experience, a veteran Mass Premier Soccer side edged the fledgling Rhode Island Reds 1-0 in a windy U.S. Open Cup Region 1 USASA final on Sunday.

Matt Hoff scored in the 19th minute, while goalkeeper Jeff Newman kept the Reds out of his net. Reds goalkeeper Chris Moura collected a series of dramatic saves to keep his club within striking distance.

Mass Premier’s victory booked them a meeting with the New York Pancryprian Freedoms, who claimed a 1-0 victory over Newtown SC on Sunday. The match is set for Apr. 21 at a time and location to be determined.

With the wind howling and gusts reaching 30mph, the Reds kicked off into the wind, and hoped to set the tone with an attack predicated upon short passing.

They did so throughout, but to little effect. Central midfielder Jason Garcia provided a strong link between the defense and attack, however, breaching Mass Premier’s back four proved to be a difficult obstacle.

Meanwhile, the guests found no such issues as they barreled into the Rhode Island end with the wind at their backs. In the 14th minute, Dan MacGregor headed a Nick Cristman corner kick into the turf that bounced over bar.

A minute later, Matt Lemire found an opportunity when snuck into the area and directed his shot toward the far post, but Moura leaned to his right to push it away.

The third try proved to be a charm in the 19th minute, when Mass Premier collected the remnants of a stalled Rhode Island attack and pushed forward. Charlie Romero sent it ahead to Hoff, who beat his mark then chipped it over Moura to put the guests in the driver’s seat.

Rhode Island searched for a reply, and nearly did just that in the 35th minute when Wilfred Ghanyea played it wide to Ivan Boaventura, who easily beat Newman. But the assistant referee’s flag was raised as the ball skipped through, much to the chagrin of the home crowd.

Mass Premier came within inches of doubling their lead when Hoff nearly converted another Christman corner. But David Ricci cleared it right off the line to keep the Reds within one going into halftime.

Hoff’s 40th minute chance was the closest either side would get to the net for the remainder of the match. Dilson Xon played it ahead to Emmanuel Asiedu on a clean break, but Newman came off his line to deny him in the 57th minute.

Moura made a trio of strong saves in the final 25 minutes, and averted danger in the 71st minute when Christman skied an open look inside the 18. Yet, the Reds couldn’t capitalize before time expired.

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