Playoff Recap vs Charlotte

Dutch Lions Conclude Season With Loss to Charlotte

On Tuesday July 21st, the Cincinnati Dutch Lions faced off with the Charlotte Eagles in the clubs first ever playoff matchup. By finishing second in the South Atlantic Division, the Lions had to travel to Charlotte for their third game in two weeks against the Eagles. After 90 minutes and stoppage time the Lions were not able to complete a comeback, losing 3-2 on the road.

The match started off slowly for both teams as game play traveled from end to end. Both the Lions and the Eagles would attempt to feel out their opponents while dealing with the 90 degree temperatures.

The Lions would have the first opportunity of the match in the sixth minute when Oriol Cortes received the ball about 30 yards away from goal. After a few touches, Cortes slotted a ball between three Eagles defenders, finding Christian Alexander in a one-on-one situation with the keeper. Alexander shot on his first touch, with the Charlotte keeper catching the shot without much hesitation.

It would be Charlotte who would open up the scoring though in the 20th minute. Amass Amankoha would intercept a poor pass from the Lions, sprinting down the right sideline. Cutting inside, Amankoha connected with Nathan Regis who shot passed Dutch Lions keeper Will Lukowski from close range. That put Charlotte in the lead 1-0.

Eight minutes later, the Eagles would tack on another goal. Off a corner kick Lales Abubakar was able to leap over the Lions defenders and headed home the goal.

Even after taking a 2-0 lead, the Eagles were not finished scoring. They would tally their third goal in the 38th minute. Following another giveaway by the Lions, Amankoha and Regis worked together again with a give and go, resulting in Regis breaking away for his second goal of the night.

Not too long after, the Lions were able to fight back to score their first goal of the half. In the 40th minute, a long cross from the center connected with college freshman Austin Smythe as he burst down the far left sideline. After an Eagles defender dove and missed the cross, Smythe cut inside, shooting far post. Receiving a lucky bounce off the post, the ball went into the back of the net to give the Lions a momentum boost before the half. After 45 minutes the score would be 3-1 in favor of Charlotte.

The second half would not feature much action until the last 10 minutes. After coming in as a substitute, Cian McDonald made a big impact on the game. McDonald would come close to scoring off a great volley, just clipping the top of the crossbar and deflecting out of bounds. Moments later in the 89th minute with only moments to spare, McDonald received the layoff from a short corner. Launching the ball into the box, his cross-found Nick Merhaut, who headed the ball to the opposite corner giving the Lions some last minute hope.

Then in the second minute of stoppage time came a heartbreaking moment for Cincinnati. Again it was McDonald sending in the crucial cross. This time he connected with Christian Hay, who bicycle kicked the ball towards goal, finding Logan Gumpert wide open for the goal! Just as the Cincinnati players and fans that traveled erupted with passion, the officials called off the goal. The original call was called offsides, but later would be changed to a common foul. It was a tough call for the Lions to take, especially after fighting back from a 3-0 deficit.

Seconds later, the officials blew their whistle to end the game. While not being the final result the Lions wanted, coach Bruno Lopes was extremely proud of his team.

“We started the game well, extremely organized. Then we conceded those three goals. We give away three goals and in these kinds of games that’s crucial and its difficult to come back. We did tremendous working together, fighting back 3-1. In the second half we had a great strategy and we scored to keep them under pressure. We had multiple chances to equalize the game, ultimately none of our shots could find the net, but it was a very great game overall. The lads need to be congratulated on what they did today. There is no need to be embarrassed. We have to be proud of them, we’ve come a long way since the start of the season. I know I’m very proud of them.”

With the PDL season officially over, the Cincinnati Dutch Lions and Dayton Dutch Lions team up to create one team to travel to Massillon, Ohio this Saturday July 25th to compete in the Shale Soccer Classic. The Lions will compete against a team of former professional and collegiate players. Kickoff for the match is at 4:00 PM at Perry High School.

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