The Martha’s Vineyard United and Fall River United under-16 boys soccer teams played a classic in the South Coast Soccer League championship match on a hot Sunday afternoon at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven.
After regulation play and 30 minutes of extra time, the teams were tied at 3-3. To crown a league champion and clinch a berth in next weekend’s Massachusetts Tournament of Champions (MTOC), the tie needed to be broken, and penalty kicks would break it.
Through five Vineyard spot kicks, Morgan Estrella, Adam Knight, and JoJo Bonneau put the ball in the net, and Fall River keeper Nick Cunha made two saves, one parried over the crossbar and the other secured comfortably on the ground. Christian Souza, Nathan Kuchar, and Jonah Andrade scored for Fall River on shots one, two, and four, with Vineyard goalie Noah Garcia punching the third shot away from the right post. With the shootout tied at 3-3, Fall River’s Brandon Miranda stepped to the penalty spot for his team’s fifth attempt with the match on his foot. Keeper Garcia guessed right and dove to his left, but Miranda’s shot was true, and Fall River advanced to the MTOC.
The sting of a penalty-shootout loss was particularly painful on this day. The Vineyard never trailed in the match, but twice Fall River rallied and got the necessary result.
Emanuel Silva put MV United on top 1-0 midway through the first half after breaking away from Fall River’s Nick Silva at the right edge of the box, cutting toward the goal and drilling a shot into the bottom left corner from 12 yards out. The rest of the first half played out unchanged, with the score an accurate reflection of the action. Fall River had its share of possession, but the Vineyard were almost always one step faster to the ball and threatened more often.
Seven minutes into the second half, Emanuel Silva doubled the MVU lead, converting a penalty kick awarded after keeper Daniel Reis charged out from the goal and upended an onrushing JoJo Bonneau to thwart a clear scoring chance.
Down 2-0, Fall River fought back and stunned the Vineyard with two goals in five minutes. First, Rafael Oliveira ripped a laser into the left corner and Dylan Ferreira notched the equalizer by deking an MVU defender to the left and slotting the ball into the bottom right corner.
The score remained tied at 2-2 after regulation play. The teams then played two 15-minute periods of extra time. Midway through the first extra session, Morgan Estrella sprinted through midfield and unleashed a sudden, stunning 30-yard shot that skimmed off the crossbar and into the net for a 3-2 Vineyard lead.
Again, Fall River refused to yield, and leveled the score in the first minute of extra time period two, with Jonah Andrade heading in a rebound from Christian Souza’s free kick.
Morgan Estrella tried to work one more piece of magic with a long lob that clanged off the crossbar in the final moments, but the deadlock remained, and penalty kicks would decide the winner.