Pioneers Drop Big Game at Home

Host AC Connecticut Friday


By Tim Peterson

Turley Publications Sports Correspondent


LUDLOW—Following last Friday night’s Premier Development League soccer match between the Seacoast United Phantoms and the Western Mass. Pioneers about fifty youngsters rushed onto the field to get autographs from their favorite Pioneers players.


Other than that, the rest of the early summer evening was a little bit disappointing for the Pioneers faithful supporters.


The Pioneers, who had posted a 5-0-2 record in their previous seven PDL matches, saw the Phantoms score four first half goals leading to a 5-1 loss before a large crowd at historic Lusitano Stadium.


“Win or lose, it’s always nice to have fans who support us at our home games,” said Pioneers midfielder Daniel Fabian, who was one of the players signing autographs for the youngsters. “Things just didn’t go our way, but we always try to give 100% effort for our fans.”


The Pioneers (5-2-2), who also lost, 2-0, against the Phantoms in the season opener back in the middle of May, are currently tied for second place in the Northeast Division table with the Long Island Rough Riders with 17 points. The Phantoms (8-0-2) are sitting in first place with 26 points.


“I really don’t think Seacoast dominated tonight’s game, but they did take advantage of our mistakes,” said Pioneers head coach Federico Molinari. “We had a couple of chances early in the game and we couldn’t capitalize on them.”


Just like a year ago, the top two finishers in the Division standings will automatically qualify for the PDL playoffs.


The Pioneers, who finished in second place behind GPS Portland last year, are scheduled to host AC Connecticut on Friday night and FC Boston at 4p.m. on Sunday afternoon.  


“We still have five games remaining in the regular season, so we’re going to battle for the top spot,” Fabian said. “Our next four games are at home and it’s normally very difficult for an opposing team to beat us on this field.”  


Seacoast United first-year head coach Allister Bain, who had previously coached at GPS Portland, knows how difficult it is for an opposing team to beat the Pioneers at Lusitano Stadium.


“This is an extremely hard place for any team to play a match because the Pioneers always have a talented squad,” Bain said. “We were a little bit fortunate to score four goals in the first half.”    


Three of the four Phantoms first half goals were scored by forward Leo Paiva, who played a game at Lusitano Stadium for the first time.


“It’s the first time that I’ve ever played a soccer game at this stadium and like it a lot,” Paiva said. “I’m from Brazil, but I also speak Portuguese, so it does feel like home here.”  

During the 13th minute of the opening of the first half, Pioneers midfielder Pierre Villez had a golden opportunity to give his team an early lead, but Phantoms goalie Thor Hoer (8 saves) made a diving save on the breakaway shot.


Less than a minute later, Paiva slotted a shot into the back of the net past Pioneers goalie Ben Martinez, who had only given up three goals in his first eight starts.


About 15 minutes later, Paiva made the score 2-0 by putting a shot into the right corner.

With less than five minutes remaining in the opening half, the Phantoms scored back-to-back goals, which pretty much sealed the victory.


Paiva scored his third goal on a breakaway shot and he assisted on the fourth goal, which was scored by midfielder Jepson Audi.


The Pioneers broke-up Hoer’s shutout bid when forward Deandre Brown fired a shot into the left corner in the 79th minute.


Seacoast’s final goal was netted by Khesanio Hau during the final minute.

The Pioneers faithful supporters are hoping for a much better result in their next two home matches.

Pierre Villez