Players from IPS Marathon Taverna (red) and Academica SC battle for the ball in a Fourth Round match in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Brittney Virgo
In the final round of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament, International Portland Select (IPS) Marathon Taverna (IPS) and Academica SC battled for a spot in the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. At Academica Fields in Turlock, Calif., both teams were seeking their first-ever trip to American soccer’s national championship. It was a physical battle between the two clubs with more than 15 cards handed out, and the match ultimately finished with teams playing 9 versus 8.
Fans from Academica SC set off smoke bombs during the club’s Fourth Round match in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Brittney Virgo
Twice, the hometown Academica SC snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, scoring two late goals to send the match into extra time, and then scoring another equalizer deep into stoppage time of the second extra time period. In the end, after finishing extra time tied at 3-3, the match would be decided by a penalty kick shootout and the hosts did not disappoint, winning 3-1 to punch their ticket to the 106th edition of the US Open Cup.
Both teams came out with a fire and a drive to win. The first goal occurred in the 37th minute. A long ball was distributed by IPS goalkeeper Bernardo Palma Sosa, which got mis-headed by an Academica defender. Nathaniel Pogue ran in behind and went 1-on-1 with the goalie, and beat him to give the Portland, Ore.-based side a 1-0 lead.
IPS would add to their lead in the second half when Gerson Mejia scored in the 69th minute. Mejia took a quick touch and shot into the upper left side of the goal. Mejia then took off his shirt in celebration and added to the booking summary by earning a yellow card.
Academica SC made an amazing comeback in the final minutes of regulation. In the 91st minute, Brennan Canfield sunk the ball into the lower corner with an assist from Edwin Rodriguez. One minute later, the ball was bouncing in IPS’ box and Manuel Villegas pounced on it and volleyed it past Sosa to tie the game at 2-2 and force extra time.
In the first half of overtime, in the 98th minute, Borce Atanasov restored the lead for IPS for the visitors by putting one away on a pass from Alcides Thomas. A few minutes later, Thomas received a second yellow card and was sent off to leave IPS down a man.
Just before the end of the first half of extra time, Academica’s Adrian Plascencia was shown a second yellow, and Mejia from IPS received a straight red card. Another Academica player exited the game due to injury and was unable to be replaced because the home team had used all of their substitutions.
When the second half of extra time began, both teams were playing with nine players.
With stoppage time approaching, Academica’s chances of equalizing received a blow when Jose Barriga brought the home team down to eight players when he received a second yellow card.
With all of the injuries, cards and delays, roughly five minutes of time was added to the end of the second half of extra time and Academica took full advantage of the added time. ASC had a direct free kick a couple of yards outside of the 18-yard box. Gerardo Cazares sent the home crowd into a frenzy when he beat Sosa in the 124th minute to force a penalty kick shootout with the score tied 3-3.
The shootout began with IPS digging themselves a hole that they ultimately wouldn’t climb out of as Maxime Gorillot missed the target. After both teams traded goals, Jose Luis Rodriguez missed for Academica as Round 3 began tied at 1-1.
Alonso Lara stepped up for the home team by saving back-to-back attempts by Brannon Romac and Joaquim Capuia of IPS. Ramiro Ceja and finally Jorge Carmoa scored to win the shootout 3-1 and send Academica SC to the US Open Cup for the first time in club history.
Academica head coach Sergio Sousa was proud of how his team fought through the adversity.
“There was a time where the guys were thinking that their bodies were failing them, but everyone just kept digging for each other. We look forward to representing the valley well [in the US Open Cup].”