Albion SC Pros continue undefeated with a 2-1 win against OSA FC in the NPSL West Region semifinals on Saturday night.
Within the first five minutes of play, Albion SC took the early lead with a goal from captain Matt Clare.
A quick give-and-go pass was made from Albion when Tre Hayes played a through ball to Clare, who pocketed it for the goal.
“It’s how we wanted to start the game because we knew it was going to be a frenetic first 15 minutes,” Clare said.
Albion was given another chance to score in the 17th minute when OSA fouled Hayes in the box. Clare stepped up to take the kick, but his shot was saved by OSA keeper Keegan Rogers.
OSA continued to press despite being down a goal and kept Albion keeper Jean Antoine on his toes. Antoine made two big-time saves within ten minutes passing time as OSA tried scoring off a set play and a long ball over the top.
Due to Albion’s early goal, they were able to end the first half 1-0.
As the players took the field once again, it was OSA that was controlling a lot of possession in the second half and creating more and more chances. A set piece was in progress when OSA’s forward was pulled down with a foul called in the 53rd minute.
OSA was given a penalty kick and David Coly stepped up for the opportunity. Coly fired the shot and sent Antoine guessing in the wrong direction which then became the game’s equalizer.
With a now tied game, the action escalated as both teams battled for the chance to take the lead.
The game-winning goal didn’t come until the last ten minutes of play. What seemed to be a ball cleared 35 yards out from the goal, was sent directly back in from Albion midfielder Raymundo Reza.
Albion was given a corner kick in the 86th minute when they sent a ball in, but a defender headed it out past the box.
What OSA didn’t expect is what came next.
“My role [during corner kicks] is to stay at the top of the box,” Reza said. “I was standing there, caught it clean and watched it go past the keeper.”
Reza was able to retrieve the ball that was cleared out of the box and volleyed it first time into the left corner for the game-winning goal.
With just under ten minutes left in the game, Albion had to hold OSA’s aggressive offense. Albion’s strong backline was able to compose the game long enough to end their semifinal matchup with a victory.
“With the amount of hard work we put out in the season and to end on a good note like that, makes the season that much better,” Clare said.
Albion SC Pros have shown an especially impressive performance due to the fact that this is just their first season in the NPSL. Prior to this game, Albion stood as part of only three teams with an undefeated record out of a total of 82 teams in the league.
Albion SC will face Sonoma County Sol FC next weekend with the chance to become West Region champions.