Erie Commodores FC scored five goals Saturday. One nearly cost them a win, until the last two in the match’s closing moments stole a 4-3 win against longtime rival FC Buffalo in front of 300 fans at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium.
Erie’s late comeback, capped by the tying and go-ahead goals in stoppage time, left midfielder Cam Philpot stunned, as if he didn’t know how it happened. Despite the seemingly unbelievable sequence of events that kept the Commodores (2-0-0) unbeaten in National Premier Soccer League play, the reason it happened was fairly simple – Philpot played a huge role in making it happen.
He scored goals that evened the score at 1 and 2, and then capped his first NPSL hat trick with the tiebreaking goal in the final minute of stoppage time. In between, second-half substitute Christopher Eduardo scored in the 91st minute to tie the score at three.
“Unreal game,” said Philpot, a native of New Zealand who has five goals for the Commodores in four NPSL and U.S. Open Cup games this season. “They’re the games you want to play in life. And scoring a hat trick in the last minute as well — oh, unreal feeling.”
FC Buffalo (0-2-0) seemed to have the match under control heading into the second half, as Kendell McFayden’s header in the 14th minute had stood up to that point.
“We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we had in the first half,” McFayden said. “Maybe if we put two or three of those away, then it’s a different game in the second half. A one-goal lead is always within reach for them.”
FC Buffalo manager Frank Butcher wondered if squandered opportunities would allow a much-needed victory to slip away from a club that has been shorthanded to start the season. Keane McIvor, a skilled midfielder from Trinidad and Tobago, remains unable to play as he awaits international clearance, while veteran defender Chris Walter is sidelined with a broken collarbone.
“Every missed opportunity, you want that back,” Butcher said, especially after the Commodores’ offensive pressure led to Philpot scoring his initial equalizer in the 54th minute. That set the stage for a wild back-and-forth battle the rest of the way.
FC Buffalo struck first, with Austin Stout’s long-range goal snapping the 1-1 tie in the 70th minute. Eduardo assisted on Philpot’s goal in the 84th minute four minutes after Eduardo entered the match.
Three minutes later, the Commodores trailed 3-2 in head-shaking fashion, as Andy Bennett’s errant pass back to Nicolau Neto sailed over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net for an own goal.
“It’s always tough scoring an own goal, and you can’t do anything about it,” Philpot said. “So to get Andy back up after that is crucial.”
It appeared the rare own goal would keep the Commodores from ending FC Buffalo’s five-match unbeaten streak in this rivalry.
But Eduardo opened four minutes of stoppage time by slipping a rebound of Ash Phillips’ shot past goalkeeper Jeremy Figler to complete Erie’s third tying rally. Then Philpot capped his big afternoon to send the Commodores to Rochester, N.Y., for Sunday’s game against the Lancers with momentum, and send FC Buffalo home to face Syracuse FC on Sunday off a stinging defeat.
“Absolutely crazy,” Philpot said. “From going 3-2 down in about the 87th minute to ending up winning 4-3 is absolutely unreal. I’ve never felt anything like it. I’ve never scored the winning goal like that before. So (I’ll) enjoy the celebrations with the boys now.”
Contributor: Victor Fernandes/NPSL.com
Photo Credit: Victor Fernandes/NPSL.com