Four teams have advanced to the semifinals of the Massachusetts Open Cup qualifying tournament, with the goal of moving on to regionals.
Boston Olympiakos needed overtime, while Mass Premier Soccer survived an eight-goal thriller that required penalty kicks to punch their ticket to the final four. Meanwhile, Battery Park Gunners had no trouble with Strela Negra, hammering them 7-0, while Mass United FC got a free pass when CF Canon Sportif were unable to field a full squad and forfeited.
Olympiakos faced a stingy defense in Boston Cambridge Somerville Eleven (BCS XI), but they came away with a 1-0 extra time victory. According to the Olympiakos website, they launched 73 shots at the BCS XI goalkeeper with 32 of them on goal, and only one found the back of the net. The breakthrough came in the 8th minute of extra time when Quievon Correia served a cross into the penalty area and found Samuel Appiah for the game-winning goal.
Boston Olympiakos are looking to return to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time since 2008. Last year, they won the Massachusetts Open Cup championship, but lost to Danbury United (Connecticut) 2-1 in the opening round of the Region I tournament. The year before, they lost to Emigrantes Das Ilhas in the Massachusetts Open Cup final. In 2008, they qualified for the Open Cup but lost to the Western Pass Pioneers (USL-2 , Third Division professional) 2-0 in the First Round.
Olympiakos will face off with the Battery Park Gunners in the semifinals, a team that cruised through their opening round match with Strela Negra, 7-0. The two will play at Madison Park High School in Roxbury, Mass. at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 with a spot in the state championship game on the line.
The other semifinal will take place at the same field and on the same day at 11:30 a.m. It will feature Mass United FC, the beneficiaries of a first round forfeit by CF Canon Sportif, and Mass Premier Soccer.
Mass Premier Soccer reached the final four in thrilling fashion, defeating East Providence Sports in the eighth round of penalty kicks, 7-6, after finishing extra time tied at 4-4. The contest was a rematch of last year’s Region I opening round contest in which MPS advanced, 4-1, to the semifinals. East Providence advanced to the regionals a year ago as the lone entry from Rhode Island, but were placed into the Massachusetts qualifying tournament this year due to the club’s participation in a league based in the neighboring state.
Most of the action took place in back-and-forth seven-goal second half after the first 45 minutes finished with MPS clinging to a 1-0 lead. Matt Hoff scored the lone first half goal on a bending ball from the left wing.
That lead didn’t last long as East Providence countered a couple of minutes into the second half by sending a ball across the box to the onrushing Anthony Petrarca. The former Cape Cod Crusader (PDL) and Western Mass Pioneers (USL-2) midfielder tracked it down and volleyed it into the back of the net with an acrobatic scissor kick. Shortly after, Hoff gave MPS the lead once again when his low cross was redirected by a defender and ended up beating his goalkeeper for an own goal. About 10 minutes later, East Providence leveled the match when MPS defender Derek Nobrega took down Kyle Teixeira in the penalty area and the spot kick was awarded. Teixeira, another former USL-2 Pioneer, converted the penalty kick to make it 2-2.
For the remaining 30 minutes of the match, East Providence pushed several players into the attack, trying to go for the win, but the MPS defense held strong and the game went into overtime. Key in the effort was goalkeeper Nick Armington, who made a fantastic diving save in the final minutes of regulation.
As if the opening 90 did not have enough drama, the visitors from Rhode Island amped up tension with a strike two minutes into extra time. Teixeira schooled the MPS defenders, popping the ball over the midfield before touching it around the centerback and firing a volley past Armington.
Approximately eight minutes later Nick Christman put the match on level terms again when he drew a penalty created by an excellent individual effort when he snared the ball while speeding by a defender attempting to shield the ball out of play. Christman would have to wait for the celebration as the East Providence goalkeeper made a dramatic save, but followed up the attempt and put in the rebound. Three minutes later, Yoshio Kaneko picked up the ball at the top of the box and sent a floating cross to the back post where Nick Figueredo buried a volley for a 4-3 MPS advantage two minutes before the two clubs switched sides for the final 15.
With both sides exhausted, MPS was looking to keep East Providence from creating more fireworks. But the December evening continued to resemble the Fourth of July. With five minutes remaining, hearts skipped a beat on the MPS bench when a shot rang off Armington’s post. Two minutes later, however, another mistake proved costly as Teixeira got another crack from the spot when Pumelele Magubela took down an East Providence striker dribbling through the box. Teixeira completed his hat-trick by slamming the ball into the roof of the net, sending the contest onto penalties.
Neither goalkeeper had much luck in the early stages of the tiebreaker, though Nobrega’s attempt went in off the underside of the crossbar in the fourth round and Cross’ shot trickled in over the netminder’s hand in the fifth. Still tied, Magubela was first up for MPS in sudden death, but his chance at redemption went horribly wrong when he attempted an unusual stutter-step attempt and missed the goal three yards wide. East Providence, however, failed to take advantage as the next shooter missed high.
With both converting in the seventh round and Bedig tallying for MPS in the eighth, Armington made the final statement of the night with his head, literally, as his save sent the ball ricocheting off his head and away from the goal.