After a scoreless first half, the Clarkstown SC Eagles were able to put a shot in the back of the net early in the second half to secure a 1–0 victory over Fredricksburg FC to advance in the NPSL playoffs.
Clarkstown opened the game firing, garnering a majority of the shot of attempts right out of the gate. They pushed the pace early putting three shots on goal in the first 12 minutes of game time, keeping Fredricksburg on their heels.
“The plan was to play a very, very, offensive game,” Clarkstown SC head coach and owner Oliver Papraniku said. “We started very well. I think we had about seven shots in the first thirteen minutes. Their keeper made some crucial saves; our guys didn’t quite put them away properly.”
Fredricksburg turned the tides later on in the first half, controlling a majority of the possession going into the halfway point. Neither team had scored, but the Fredricksburg attack was enough to force a hard foul in the 42nd minute which led to a yellow card for Emmanuel Gomez of Clarkstown.
In the 49th minute Bljedi Bardic of Clarkstown put the first goal of the game on the board, as he was able to beat the defense on a run down the left side of the field and beat the goalie on a shot taken just inside the left side of the penalty box.
Clarkstown pushed the pace and controlled possession coming out of halftime just as they did at the beginning of the first half. They were the more aggressive team for a majority of the game and regulated the tempo of the game for both sides.
“We’re a really offensive-minded team,” Papraniku said. “We play to win. Home, away, anywhere. We play three up top and whether it be the start of the game, middle of the game, or end of the game we remain aggressive.”
After the goal was scored it turned into a battle of attrition between the two sides. Both fought for position, but neither side was able to put another notch on the scoreboard.
Fredricksburg was able to put some quality shot attempts on goal, but could not score the equalizer in the second half. In the 74th minute they nearly scored their first goal of the game on a shot that deflected off of a Clarkstown defender, but the shot ricocheted just outside the right goal post.
Clarkstown had a chance to stretch their lead to two goals on a very controlled possession inside the Fredricksburg penalty box, but the final result was a shot that missed wide right of the goal.
Things got chippy at the end of the game after the teams were awarded four minutes of extra time. Coming off a cross that nearly went into the Clarkstown goal, Fredricksburg’s Ivan Sakou was sent off with a red card after a hard foul which initially raised yellow card. The red card was seemingly handed out after some extra verbiage after the initial call.
Clarkstown and Fredricksburg allowed five and seven goals this season, respectively. Those numbers are good enough to tab them as the top two defensive teams in the region, and this game really lived up to those expectations.
The team that maintained the most pressure throughout was going to be winner in this one, and that team was Clarkstown SC.