Pioneers Drop Game to FC Boston

Host Long Island this Friday

 

By Tim Peterson

Turley Publications Sports Correspondent

 

LUDLOW—For the second consecutive year, the F.C. Boston Bolts made the trek west on the Mass. Turnpike to historic Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow and put a damper on the Western Mass. Pioneers playoff chances.

 

The Pioneers, who had an opportunity take over sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference Northeast Division table with a victory, suffered a 3-0 shutout loss to the Bolts on a very hot afternoon on Sunday (July 2).

 

“This loss certainly puts a lot more pressure on us,” said Pioneers midfielder Dan Fabian, who played the entire match. “We have three games remaining in the regular season and we’ll probably need three wins in order to make the playoffs.”

 

A year ago, Western Mass. entered the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to finish in first place in the league standings for the first time since becoming members of the USL Premier Development League in 2010. The Pioneers still qualified for the playoffs, but they wound up finishing in second place after losing, 2-1, to F.C. Boston in their final regular season home match and at G.P.S. Portland two days later.

 

Western Mass most likely won’t finish in first place this season either, but they’re one of three teams battling for the second playoff spot.

 

The Pioneers (6-3-2) who have gone 1-2 in their last three home matches, and the Bolts (6-4-2), who won their fifth match in a row, are currently tied for third place with 20 points.

The Long Island Rough Riders (6-1-3) are sitting in second place behind first place Seacoast United with 21 points.

 

“There are three teams battling for the second playoff spot,” said F.C. Boston assistant coach Chris Payne. “We got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, but we’ve been playing very well lately. We’re hoping to win our final two matches and see what happens after that. It’s also a lot of fun playing a match at this stadium, especially whenever your team wins.”

 

The Pioneers and the Bolts, who also played a pair of 1-1 draws at Mount Ida College earlier this season, are both scheduled to face the Rough Riders next weekend.       

 

The Pioneers, will be hosting the Rough Riders at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. Long Island will visit F.C. Boston the following night.

 

The Pioneers, who still control their own playoff destiny, will face the Westchester Flames in the final regular season home match on July 14 before wrapping up the season at Long Island two days later.   

 

F.C. Boston head coach Brian Ainscough watched Sunday’s match from the bleachers because he was suspended for one match after receiving a red card during his team’s 2-1 win at Seacoast United on June 28.  

 

Two Pioneers players will also be sitting out Friday night’s home match against Long Island after receiving red cards from the referee in the loss against the Bolts.

 

Less than a minute after getting his first caution from the referee late in the first half, Western Mass. midfielder Maxi Viera received his second yellow card resulting in an automatic red card and an early shower. It was Viera’s, who’s one of the older players listed on the Pioneers roster, second red card of the regular season. The league will decide if and when Viera returns to action this season.

 

At that point the Pioneers were trailing, 1-0, as Bolts midfielder Alex Ainscough, who’s the coach’s son, converted a penalty kick during the 41st minute.     

 

The Pioneers, who began the second half with ten players on the field, fell behind 2-0 in the 50th minute when forward Jack Doran fired a low shot into the right corner of the net past Western Mass. goalkeeper Ben Martinez.  

 

Two minutes later, Pioneers midfielder Kyle Tomas, who graduated from Ludlow High School, received a straight red card from the referee after pushing a Bolts player from behind.  

 

F.C. Boston put the game on ice following an unassisted goal by Ainscough in the 66th minute.

 

The faithful Pioneers supporters didn’t have very much to cheer about against F.C. Boston in the third Mass. Pike Derby match of the regular season.  

Dan Fabian