A 500-person crowd came out to Gannon University’s McConnell Family Stadium Saturday night to see the Commodores’ the regular season finale . The meeting’s winner would be the conference champion as both teams were tied on points and points per game with Cleveland ahead in the conference on goal difference.
Erie started the match on the front foot, pressuring Cleveland in all parts of the park and keeping Cleveland’s space to a minimum and forcing the visitors to play in tight spaces. Cleveland found the pressure to be quite difficult to string together more than three passes without the Commodores disrupting their attack. Cleveland did a good job keeping the Erie attack at bay, but in the 34th minute Erie had their breakthrough and the start they were looking for. Ashley Phillips crossed the ball into the 18-yard box from the left side to find the head of Jack Simpson, who beat Cleveland SC’s netminder.
In the 38th minute Erie goalkeeper Nicolau Neto would be sent off, reducing the Erie side to ten men for the remainder of the match. Chris Ralph would have to see the match out for the home side. Some of the pressure on Erie would be relieved in the 44th minute when Casey Bartlett-Scott would send a belter into the back of Cleveland’s net from about 30 yards, doubling the Commodores’ advantage just before halftime.
Erie came out of the dressing room to start the second half, much like they did the start of the match. They were looking to impose their style, playing in pressure and continuing to make their passes, regardless of the fact that they were down to 10 men. Cleveland would spend most of the half pressuring Erie, knowing they had the man advantage and they could look to overload the Erie defense. In the 70th minute after a mishit, looping cross that bounced across the goal mouth, Vinny Bell turned the ball into the net, cutting Erie’s advantage in half with 20 minutes to play.
Cleveland would create a few good chances in the closing minutes of the match, but the time ran short for their search of the equalizing goal that would see the trophy come to them. After the three minutes of stoppage time was complete and the final whistle blown, Erie had seen the match out. Erie had won the conference for the second straight year.
Contributor: Erie Commodores FC
Photo Credit: Matt Paschke/The Armada Supporters Group