The Long Island Rough Riders suffered a heartbreaking defeat in penalty kicks (4-2) to Charlotte in the 2017 PDL Eastern Conference Championship on Sunday night on the campus of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga.
With the win, Charlotte advances to next week’s PDL Semifinals as Eastern Conference champion. The Rough Riders’ successful season comes to an unfortunate end.
Daniel Bedoya and Andre Morrison converted from the penalty spot for Long Island after regulation and two overtime periods couldn’t break a 1-1 deadlock, but Charlotte goalie James Pyle made a crucial save in the fourth round to send the Eagles through to the league’s four-team playoff.
The Rough Riders, runners up in the Northeast Division, finish their most successful campaign since winning the Eastern Conference title in 2011 with a 10-2-5 record, and playoff victories over New York Red Bulls Under-23 in the conference play-in game and an Eastern Conference Semifinal win against Myrtle Beach, winners of the South Atlantic Division.
Charlotte, runners up in the South Atlantic Division, took a 1-0 lead Sunday night in first-half stoppage time. Ryan Williams had a probing run through midfield and was taken down just outside of the 18-yard box. His ensuing free kick struck the wall, but was played by a defender’s hand as the referee pointed to the spot. Williams’ PK put Charlotte up 1-0 just before the interval.
Long Island, which had its five-game unbeaten streak snapped, continued its pressure while searching for the equalizer in the second half. It finally came in the 84th minute as Daniel Bedoya received a pass 6 yards out from the right side and snapped a shot through a defender’s legs and past Pyle to make the score 1-1 and force extra time.
Both teams had their share of chances in the two 15-minute extra periods, but neither were able to capitalize as legs got heavier and fatigue settled in.
BY: Michael LoRé