By Carter Hochman/Valeo FC
A 90 degree 7:00 pm kickoff was a foreshadowing of the heat that this game between Cedar Stars FC and Valeo FC would bring. It was the #2 vs the #3 seed in the semifinal of the North Atlantic Conference playoffs. The first time these two faced off it was a 5-0 Valeo win; the second game was an exhilarating 4-3 come-from-behind win for Valeo. Cedar Stars did not forget those games.
Valeo did come out on the front foot, winning a penalty kick in the fourth minute. Leading goal scorer Matthew Bell would put the goal in the bottom left hand corner of the goal, sending Cedar Stars goalkeeper Daniel DiMarco the wrong way.
However, just one minute later, a ball would be sent in Valeo’s box leading to a driven shot that was saved initially by Valeo’s keeper Zach Rowell. Gunnar Studenhufft, who had a hat trick in their last match, would bury the rebound for the Cedar Stars.
Valeo would not take their foot off the gas creating eight shots on goal. DiMarco would stand strong stopping all eight to keep the half 1-1. The second half would be no different for Valeo’s mentality, unleashing five more dangerous shots on goal. DiMarco would continue to be the hero for Cedar Stars, stopping all five.
In the 63rd minute, Cedar Stars would earn a penalty kick of their own. Thomas Stickley would rip the penalty kick low and to the left where it would be initially saved by Rowell, but Daniel Zholendz would drive the rebound into the upper right hand corner. This would give the Cedar Stars the 2-1 lead, and that’s where the game would finish.
Cedar Stars will host the North Atlantic final as they take on the New York Shockers who upset the #1 seed Hartford City FC. The game will take place on Saturday, July 16th.
Photo Credit: Ben Reimann/Valeo FC