Perhaps the most important save and goal in FC Frederick NPSL history will never show on the state sheet.
Phil Breno, FC Frederick’s fourth-year starting keeper, smothered a shot in the shootout and Bilal Hassane delivered the match-winning penalty kick to end FC Frederick’s 4-3 shootout win over Northern Virginia United following a 2-2 draw in the NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference semifinals Thursday night.
The victory sends FC Frederick into Saturday’s conference final at top-seeded FC Baltimore in an all-Maryland final.
Goals and saves in shootouts do not count toward individual statistics as it is merely a tie-breaking procedure.
“I was thinking it had been a long game, they beat us twice in games I didn’t get to play in — I just had to do what I had to do,” said Hassane, who banged the game-winning penalty kick off the right post to send FC Frederick to its second straight conference final appearance.
“I told the guys before the shootout, Phil’s going to make one save and and you guys are going to make your shots,” FC Frederick Chris Spinks said. “On that save he made, he got his whole body behind it. When you see your keeper do that, that gives your guys confidence.”
Northern Virginia’s Chris Welsh and FC Frederick’s Christian Morales made their first attempts. Breno’s save on Northern Virginia’s second chance allowed Graham Guidry to step to the line and convert for a 2-1 advantage. Shaka Bangura then converted for Northern Virginia and FC Frederick’s ensuing chance when high. After Northern Virginia’s fourth shooter missed just high, FC Frederick was back in control and Brian Flatter and Hassane closed out the win by converting their chances.
FC Frederick, which entered postseason as the third seed after two regular-season losses to Northern Virginia, wouldn’t have reached the shootout had it not been for a late goal by Flatter, who has been providing FC Frederick with quality performances the second half of the season.
FC Frederick took the lead in the 60th minute when an errant pass by the Northern Virginia keeper ended up on the foot of Saidou Toure, who took a couple of touches then popped a shot over the keeper for a 1-0 lead. Northern Virginia responded three minutes later as Collin Verfurth’s diving header got past Breno, who finished the night with six saves. Regulation ended 1-1.
In overtime, Northern Virginia took a 2-1 lead when Welsh converted a penalty kick. Again, only three minutes later, the score was tied. This time FC Frederick’s Shawn Baker’s corner kick was headed around the goal mouth before Jacob Wilkinson headed the ball back toward the 18 and into the path of Flatter, who ripped a low shot that glanced off a defender and into the net for a 2-2 scoreline in the 100th minute. Flatter had entered the match only two minutes earlier.
“When I’m on the field, I like to talk a lot and bring energy,” Flatter said. “Coming in in the 98th minute, I know I have 98 minutes of fresh legs. I don’t have to save anything, just play hard.”
Once going to penalty kicks, Spinks said he did not have a set lineup. Instead, he asked who wanted to take the kicks and the five who responded were the five he sent out.
“I asked who wants to take one, those five asked for one, so my job is to make the order,” Spinks said. Four of the five penalty kick takers were subs, which Spinks said was a credit to the team’s depth this season.
“I’m very proud of these guys just to get to the semifinals with the level of the new teams that came into the league this year,” Spinks said. “Then, to come back and reach the final again is great.”
Contributor: FC Frederick
Photo Credit: FC Frederick