United Eliminated From Playoffs By Nauset

Falmouth United's Nathan Estrela attempts to get the ball past Nasuset goalie Joe Graffey during the second half of the August 6 game. Graffey made the save to keep his team in front. - Falmouth United's Nathan Estrela attempts to get the ball past Nasuset goalie Joe Graffey during the second half of the August 6 game. Graffey made the save to keep his team in front.

A late afternoon thunderstorm soaked the field, and delayed the start of the Wednesday afternoon, August 6, Cape Cod Amateur Soccer League semifinal match between Falmouth United and the Nauset Storm by nearly an hour. In the end, United probably would have preferred that the storm had postponed their date with the Storm.

Nauset scored a pair of goals in each half, and held off a second-half charge by United to knock Falmouth out of the tournament with a 4-1 victory in Harwich. Nauset will meet up with defending champions Sandwich, which won a four-overtime thriller against Dennis-Yarmouth, in the Davis Cup championship game on Sunday afternoon in Harwich.

Nauset partially used the numbers game to pull off the victory, which was not quite as lopsided as the final score might indicate. The Storm had a full complement of subs for the contest, with a dozen bench players ready to go. At the start of the game, and for a good portion of the first half, Falmouth had just a single alternate. By the end of the game they had four extra players.

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Nauset’s two-goal halves both featured a goal off a set play, and one in the flow of the game. The first of the contest came on a nice switch of the field by the Storm. United attempted to clear the ball out of its own end, with a kick by Tom Delmont reaching the midfield, on Nauset’s left wing. The Storm settled the ball and quickly moved it to the far side of the field where the Storm were able to move the ball down low quickly for a shot by Tyler Sabonen, who beat Paul Paiva with a quick shot to the far post from the top of the box in the 26th minute.

Nine minutes later the home team doubled the lead. A throw-in that was awarded to the Storm came deep in Falmouth’s territory, on the left side. The thrower for the Storm, Sean Hobart, unleashed a long heave that found its way to the top of the box, right in front of Paiva. Adam Haskell settled and banged the ball home to the near side to make it a 2-0 game, which is where things stood at the half.

United, which had just one quality scoring chance in the first half, came out strongly in the second half, determined to make a game of it. They did for quite a while. In the 54th minute, the visitors shaved the deficit in half thanks to a great play up the left wing side that led to a goal by Justin Mendes, on the far side. Nathan Estrela scurried past a mark on the wing and sent a long cross to Mendes, who was breaking hard up the far wing. Mendes let his shot fly, while on the run, and hit it off a sliding defender, which redirected the ball up over the left shoulder of keeper Joe Graffey.

That goal sparked United, and they went after their hosts hard. United carried the next 15 minutes, and had a couple of good chances that did not result in the equalizer. Twice corner kicks went awry for the team, and in the 69th minute United came painfully close to tying the score as Estrela ran onto a ball just in front of Graffey, who came way out of his net to try to cut the play off. A defender that trailed the play was able to nudge the ball as Estrela let his shot go, changing its direction just enough for Graffey to somehow collect the ball before it could roll past him into the vacated net.

“When we put pressure on them up front, they didn’t like that, and we were able to capitalize on that,” United manager Abdul Faiky said.
Five minutes after that close call, Nauset used a Falmouth foul just outside the box to run a pretty set play that led to the third Storm strike. Pat Fallon headed home a cross from the outside in the 74th minute to all but ice the game. In the 85th minute, with Falmouth pushing everyone up on offense in a bid to close the gap, United was caught shorthanded defensively against a Nauset counterattack.

The Storm finished off a pretty passing play that saw Cody Sabonen knock in a nice cross from John McCully, making it 4-0 with just five minutes left to go.

“They’re good, there’s no ifs or buts, they’re strong and well-coached and they go after you,” Faiky said. “They move the ball, they pressure you and they won the 50-50 balls.”

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