Fusion takes semifinal game
The defending champions of the South Tahoe United Soccer league weren’t ready to give up their title. Instead, Fusion had to take its semifinal game forcibly.
Fusion, the second seed in the league’s playoffs, lost a 2-0 lead and had to rally for a 4-3 win after trailing in the second half. Forward Nestor Llamas sealed the win at the end of regulation, blasting a point-blank shot past Buena Vista keeper Sergio Mariscal.
“I thought, for one minute, we’d lose the game,” said Fusion technical director Rodolfo Garcia, whose team won the rematch of last year’s finalists. “I think these guys, their spirit just came from inside and they tried to do their best.”
Fusion, with a talent-loaded and fleet front line, struck early, as Antonio Resendez scored the first two goals of the game. But Buena Vista didn’t seem ready to give up its title without a fight: Guadalupe Perez scored before the end of the half to put Buena Vista back in the game, while the Buena Vista defense forced Fusion to the wings, and staved off several strong chances.
Buena Vista carried that momentum out of the break, as forwards Fernando Munoz and Perez – who finished with two goals and an assist – created several chances with their nonstop runs down the sideline. Munoz gave Buena Vista the lead on the team’s third unanswered goal, taking a pass from Perez and blasting it low and left into the net.
“The other team, they were a really, really good team,” Garcia said. “They won the championship last year. You have to expect anything with these games.”
But a red card to center midfielder Manuel Toro – on two yellows – forced Buena Vista to play a man down the rest of the game. Fusion took advantage: Resendenez scored his hat-trick goal on a well-played through ball to tie the game at 3-3, and turn the momentum. Llamas capped the comeback with about two minutes left in regulation.
Fusion, which has the chance to bolster its roster with the return of two more semi-pro players, advanced to the final for the second straight year, where it will meet TOLUCA/CHEVY’S for the championship in Sunday’s nightcap game. The title game follows the 5 p.m. third-place match, most likely at 6:30.
Buena Vista downed Fusion 3-2 for the inaugural United League championship.
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