NPSL Weekly: Down to the Wire

Conference champions to be decided after some great matches last week
by Daniel Casey   |   Thursday, July 18, 2013

NPSL Weekly – column on the NPSL and the league's clubs, players and owners

The NPSL season is coming down to the wire and we now know exactly what teams will be vying for their conference title. Last weekend saw some major upsets and some amazing matches.

The upset of the season has to be the elimination of Detroit City FC from the playoffs.

Once again the Erie Admirals, a team that seems to always play its best during the playoff run, is the Great Lakes Flight champ and will square off against Quad City Eagles for the Midwest Conference title on Saturday. Erie is in impressive form and have to be considered the favorites in this match given how intense the Great Lakes competition was this year.

Perhaps the wildest match of last week saw FC Hasental fall to Sacramento Gold in a 13-goal extravaganza. While Hasental had had several regular season matches where it scored an obnoxious amount of goals, it was more than a bit of a surprise that not only Sacramento do the same but better. Sacramento was averaging just under 2.5 goals a game in the regular season while Hasental averaged nearly 3.5. Yet the Gold were able to net 8 goals and, even though they surrendered 5 to Hasental, they never gave up the lead.

The West Conference will now come down to another battle between Northern Flight powerhouses, Sonoma County Sol and Sacramento. Even with the goal barrage that the Gold unleashed last week, one has to favor Sonoma County given how they performed in the regular season match ups (a 4-1 win, 2-2 draw, and 7-4 win) against the Gold.

Last week’s marquee match between Chattanooga FC and Tulsa Athletics was epic. The game saw one of the best offenses in the league (Tulsa) face one of the best defenses in the league (Chattanooga), and defense won. After the full 90 minutes the score was 0-0, after added extra time the score was 0-0, and the match went to penalty kicks. At no point it seemed could Tulsa break the Chattanooga defense.

Finally, in PKs Chattanooga put the match to rest netting its first 3 attempts while the team’s goalkeeper Gregory Hartley managed to deny every Tulsan player. Chattanooga now travels to face off with expansion side RVA FC in Richmond, Va., to determine the champion of the South Conference. Although travel may be an issue for the Chattanooga players, you have to feel they are the favorites going into the match.

The Northeast Conference just figured itself out on Thursday. To no one’s great surprise the Brooklyn Italians fell to FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic (the Erie Admirals of the Keystone Flight) and the New York Red Bulls U23 fell to upstate rivals Greater Binghamton FC. FC LVU Sonic will face Binghamton in the final. And while Binghamton won the 2 matches played in the regular season between the 2 teams, it was well before FC LVU Sonic’s hot streak began.

Sonic is on an 8-match undefeated run since losing to Binghamton on June 8; Sonic has won every match and outscored their opponents 26-7. It’s a toss-up between the 2, but advantage must be given to Sonic as defending champs.

This season has seen some amazing play and performances in the league and one can only imagine it will continue into the push to the finals. As of right now, I have to feel that Chattanooga FC is the league’s best remaining team. However, never count out teams like FC LVU Sonic or the Erie Admirals – one of those teams could easily make it to the finals and surprise a lot of folks.

Daniel CASEY

Carthage College Univ. of Notre Dame
Club Domestic:
Chicago Fire & Minnesota Stars
Club Foreign:
Manchester United
Founder/editor of the literary magazine Gently Read Literature, active but barely read poet and literary critic, and an occasional English professor. Never got to play soccer until his mid-30s, so he is routinely schooled by U10 crowd at pick-up games.