Spring '09 Finals Recap

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What a day of soccer! The Casa finals were a veritable non-stop highlight reel across all divisions with each game providing many exciting moments and lots of great technical displays. Passions and hopes ran high, but at the end of the game there could be only one winner:

Abierto

Vietnamese United was brand new to Casa this year but quickly established winning ways, holding their own against tough competition and coming into the playoffs as the #3 seed with only two losses. Meanwhile, the Lot Lizards gained a reputation as a dominant force - with size, skill and speed that combined to get them the #1 seed. The teams had seen each other twice before in the regular season with a 0-0 tie and a 2-0 win to the Lot Lizards. Would Vietnamese be able to find the net this go around?

The Vietnamese made it clear they were there to win, stringing together crisp passes and streaking runs while challenging every 50-50 ball with fierce intensity. They suffered their first set-back early in the 1st half though as a penalty kick was converted by LL and they went down 1-0. Nevertheless, they remained undeterred and stepped up the pressure with a relentless assault. Finally penetrating the tough Lizard defense, some rough contact in the box led to their own PK opportunity. But the Lot Lizards are #1 for a reason and a shot that seemed destined for the back of the net was pushed to the post with a miraculous save by the fully extended keeper:

With the momentum clearly shifted to the Lizards, they seized control and never looked back. A few minutes later a flawlessly executed bicycle kick found the net and they took a daunting 2-0 lead into halftime. Another insurance goal on a surgically-precise free-kick mid-way through the second half sealed the deal and the Lizards claimed their first division title.


Tercera

Going undefeated into the playoffs, perhaps NewPhillyUnited was a bit overconfident in their quarterfinal match up. Having trounced last placed FC Spartans 7-2 in their regular season game they almost faced a major upset and barely came away with a 2-1 squeaker. Things didn't get any easier in the semis as they narrowly escaped past Gremio FBPA in PKs. #3 seed Sons of Ben Athletic took a similar path, also advancing to the finals in PKs. Clearly it was shaping up to be a close one.

A game played predominately at mid-field, neither team was giving much space as both struggled to find a rhythm. Two of the divisions strongest defenses were on full alert, stifling progress at every turn. With an average of less than 1 goal allowed per game for both teams in the regular season, no one wanted to be behind early and half time saw a 0-0 score.

As the minutes of the second half ticked by it was beginning to look like the game was heading into PKs, just as the teams experienced in the semi-finals. Both teams continued to look for openings and it seemed they realized that if either team wanted to score in regulation that they wouldn't be able to walk it in. A well-hit, low shot from NPU connected and put them up 1-0. With newly established confidence, the shots then came with increased frequency and NPU were able to put another one in off of a rebound and win the game 2-0.



Segunda

The Cinderella story of the playoffs was clearly Penn United. At #6, they were the only team in the finals across the entire League that wasn't a top three seed. Playing against #1 seed and former Primera team KS Cracovia, it would seem they would be seriously outgunned and the fairytale story ending just short of happily ever after.

With the league's leading scorer on their team, KC Cravovia stuck to the basics, confident that the goals would come. Indeed, early in the first half a breakaway culminated with an elegant outside of the foot shot placed in the upper corner and KS Cracovia looking every bit the champions.

But Penn United had been behind more than once before this season and appeared unfazed. Just a short while later they came back with a nifty goal of their own and tied it up 1-1. Despite a few balls being cleared last-second from the goal mouth, neither team yielded any more goals in regulation, and it came down to PKs. Back and forth it went and with a fluke miss by KS Cracavia, Penn United had the chance to win it with the 5th shot:

Penn United won it all and found themselves vaulted into the 1st division for the fall.


Primera

Atop the 1st division both teams came ready to play. As if the two teams were a league unto themselves, The Allstars won it all last spring, only to cede the crown in the fall to Deportivo Arsenal. Coming into the finals at #2 and #1 respectively, neither side had any intention of going home empty handed.

The action lasted from beginning to end with Deportivo drawing first blood. Not wanting to provide any chance for rest, the Allstars blazing speed caught Deportivo off guard and a blitzing offense capitalized on a loose ball in the box and evened the score. Each team would find the net once more as the tension continued to build. A few set plays almost panned out but the stalemate would last through regulation and off to PKs it went.

Perhaps it was the wind, exhaustion or just bad luck, but two missed PKs by the usually sure-footed Allstars were more than enough to give Deportivo the opportunity they needed to seal the victory and take back-to-back Primera titles. They now enter the fall season with the opportunity to be the first 3-peat team and establish themselves as a Casa dynasty.

Posted by Eric Wirth, Created Mon Jul 13, 2009, Updated Fri Aug 14, 2009

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