In what he called one of the most significant goals of his career, Jake Gosselin’s score in the 68th minute gave FC Frederick a 2-1 road win at Fredericksburg FC on Friday, clinching at least a share of first place in the NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference.

FC Frederick is 4-1 with one match remaining, a showdown at second-place Virginia Beach City FC on July 9. FC Frederick is assured of its best-ever NPSL finish and a home playoff match on July 12.

Gosselin’s goal was set up by a pass from William Eskay, which sprung Gosselin for the 1-on-1 with the Fredericksburg keeper.

“Everyone knew we needed to get at least a point (to host a playoff match), and that goal lifted the weight off our shoulders,” said Gosselin, who also assisted FC Frederick’s first goal. “Once we got that second goal, we just needed to defend and manage the clock.”

Phil Breno recorded eight saves in goal for FC Frederick, upping his record to 6-1 in his last seven NPSL matches and earning Man of the Match honors. He turned away several Fredericksburg scoring chances, and the eight saves is the second-highest single-game total ever by an FC Frederick keeper.

“Phil was huge in goal,” FC Frederick coach Chris Spinks said. “He’s what you want in a keeper — he makes game-winning saves.”

The game got off to an ominous start for FC Frederick.

Fredericksburg FC forward Ivan Sakou pounced on a bad pass by an FC Frederick player making his first appearance of the season and then scored to give the home team a 1-0 lead in the first minute of play.

“We’re down 1-0 in the first minute, and I’m thinking, ‘Now we’ve got a mountain to climb against one of the best teams in our conference,” Spinks said.

Ten minutes later, however, the tempo had changed. Fredericksburg had a penalty kick bounce off the crossbar and FC Frederick midfielder Graham Guidry responded with a goal on the counter, assisted by Gosselin, in the 11th minute to tie the match. After Guidry’s goal, Fredericksburg’s coach was ejected after arguing that Guidry was in an offside position.

“It was definitely the Fourth of July weekend,” Spinks said with a laugh. “The first 10 minutes were all fireworks. The first 20 minutes, with all that happened, were extremely high tempo.”

In the second half, Guidry started the winning combination by getting the ball to Eskay, who was able to spring Gosselin for the game-winner.

“We had a chance to make it 3-1, and (Fredericksburg) put us under a lot of pressure late,” Spinks said. “2-1. I’ll take it and get out of there … We snatched the win and three points on the road. It’s a fantastic result for us.”

Gosselin, while enjoying the team result, was encouraged by his showing.

“I’ve been on the wrong end each of the past few games, so (getting this goal) was a good step forward for me,” Gosselin said of his second NPSL goal and first since the opening match of the season. “It really boosts my confidence. I’ve been struggling lately as a forward and this goal is a big one — it ranks right up there.”

At 4-1, FC Frederick is atop the conference standings with 12 points. Virginia Beach City FC is second at 2-0-3 and nine points. Fredericksburg FC is now a distant third.

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