The Seacoast Phantoms huddle up during their match against the Kendall Wanderers in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Ashley MacLaughlin | Seacoast United Phantoms
After 120 minutes plus and seven rounds of penalties Seacoast United Phantoms find themselves headed to the Second Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after defeating a 10-Men Kendall Wanderers side at Seacoast United Sports Park in Amesbury, Mass.
The Phantoms, who were making their sixth appearance in the tournament — third in the last four years — got a gift from the Wanderers in the form of a 12th minute red card by Kendall’s Jason Noctor. The Wanderers, who were making their US Open Cup debut, had to play down a man for the remainder of the game but managed to hold the home team to a 2-2 draw before falling in penalty kicks, 6-5.
Kendall Wanderers players looked to prove their case as to why the Bay State Soccer League side deserved to be on field coming out with a high intensity press taking the game to Seacoast United. This proved effective in early moments of the game, but Wanderers found it difficult to get possession of the ball back once lost. Tackles began to fly in an effort to win possession, and after 12 minutes, Jason Noctor slid through the back of Seacoast forward Donnett Sackie, earning a straight red card.
After going a man up, Seacoast United began carving out chances, hitting the post early in the 21st minute. But it was the 10 men of Kendall Wanderers to strike first after winger Braima Samati latched on to a through ball and put it past the Seacoast keeper.
Following the first goal, Seacoast began to bring the intensity to Kendall and eventually found an equalizing goal in the 44th minute through a Rok Taneski cross that found the head of Donnett Sackie. Seacoast ended the first half continuing a high press looking for a go-ahead goal, but went into the locker room with the game tied 1-1.
Seacoast United Phantoms goalkeeper Mitch Stedman made two saves in the penalty kick shootout to eliminate Kendall Wanderers in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Ashley MacLaughlin | Seacoast United Phantoms
Seacoast came out of the break continuing where they left off pressing Kendall and exploiting their man advantage. For most of the second half Kendall absorbed the pressure that Seacoast was throwing at them in waves. As the half went on, Kendall defending began to get desperate with several goal line clearances. But with the constant pressure from Seacoast’s front three it proved to be too much and Kendall conceded to a Julian Canosa strike from the top of the box in the 82nd minute.
As the clock continued to roll it looked increasing likely that Seacoast United had punched their ticket to the Second Round. In stoppage time, the Wanderers were awarded a corner kick, and they capitalized with defender Eric Robertson heading the ball home.
As the game entered extra time the tempo of the game stayed very much the same as it was from the second half. Kendall continued to absorb Seacoast’s continued press searching for a goal. Kendall Keeper Evan Weagle was called into action multiple times during extra time, saving what should have been Seacoast’s go ahead goal in the 116th minute. Seacoast continued to press until the officials whistle went signaling the game would be decided on penalties.
Both teams scored in the first two rounds of the shootout. Kendall had their third penalty saved and Seacoast capitalized scoring their third. The score stayed the same until the fifth round, where all Seacoast would need to do is score to win the match, but again Kendall goal keeper Even Weagle came up big again saving a Donnett Sackie shot to move to sudden death rounds. After Seacoast’s Mitch Steadmen saved Kendall’s seventh penalty, Joey Bhangdia stepped up and scored sending Seacoast United to the Second Round of the US Open Cup.
After claiming victory, Seacoast United will host the Elm City Express of the National Premier Soccer League on May 16th, 2018.
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