Vineyard FC advances to Over the Hill soccer final

Vander Souza rang the left post with this shot in the late moments of regulation. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Vineyard FC, the Island’s entry in the New England Over The Hill Soccer League (NEOTHSL) hosted its first-ever playoff match Sunday on the big stage at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs and came up a winner.

Skip Dostal poked the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal with four minutes left in the second period of extra time to give VFC a 3-2 win over CD Faialense (CDF) of Cambridge in the the Masters Division 6 semifinal. The Island Copper sponsored side remained unbeaten at 11-0 and advanced to the Division 6 final against the Albania United Veterans on November 18 at Lincoln Park in Lexington. The kickoff is set for 2:30 pm.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graciously allowed the Over the Hill gang to use the varsity pitch. The match was played in front of an enthusiastic gathering of, by this reporter’s count, 55 humans and two canines. Members of the MVRHS girls varsity soccer team were on hand to run the concessions booth.

The teams played through 90 minutes of regulation play and 30 minutes of extra time with little between them, just what a playoff match should be. Unfortunately, the contest was marred by an abundance of boorish, petulant, and contentious behavior.

Referee Chris Decker had his hands full, especially in the first 30 minutes, when he was regularly beseiged by churlish, gesticulating players, posing as adults.

Mr. Decker handed out three yellow cards, two to the visitors and one to VFC. He also handed out one red card after the final whistle, to the Faialense captain, for foul language and verbal abuse.

By that point, the young men contesting the upcoming Massachusetts Premier League Under-14 contest between MV United and St. Michael Youth of New Bedford, had gathered in and around the stands to watch the match and finish up with practice, while awaiting their turn on the pitch.

Following the Vineyard win, fullback Neal Sullivan summed the match up succinctly, “Sometimes soccer isn’t the beautiful game.”

The childish antics aside, the teams played out a highly competitive match. Vineyard FC struck first, in the 15th minute. Skip Dostal ran up the middle and fired an absolute laser into the net from 25 yards out. CDF leveled the score less than five minutes later by converting a penalty kick, following a trip in the box.

VFC carried the play in the first half. The hosts had 11 shots, four on target, compared to four shots and two on net from Faialense.

With the wind at their backs to start the second half, CDF put two shots on goal in the first 30 seconds. They had six shots in second half, three on target, while the Vineyard managed two on goal in three attempts.

Both goalkeepers, Vineyard FC’s Lee Carlos and Nemesio of Faialense came up aces in the opening 90 minutes with several great saves.

VFC came close to grabbing the lead with 10 minutes left, but Vander Souza’s shot hit the left post.

The teams remained deadlocked at 1-1 after regulation and played out two 15-minute periods of extra time. The Vineyard took a quick lead as Rudy Fernandez came in alone and drilled a shot into the top left corner from close range to make the score 2-1 in the second minute.

Ninety seconds later, Faialense scored short-handed to equalize. The visitors brought only 11 players and played the second extra time period with only ten men due to an injury.

In the end, Faialense had the last ill-fated word with Chris Decker, but Skip Dostal had the final say with his right foot and Vineyard FC moved on to compete for the championship next Sunday.