VENTURA, Calif. – The Long Island Rough Riders dropped a 2-1 decision to the Ventura County Fusion in the USL League Two championship game at Ventura College on Saturday night.
Marley Edwards’ line-drive goal in the 84th minute snapped a 1-1 deadlock to boost Ventura County to its second league title. Substitute Sergio Villalpando, 16, assisted on the score.
Despite the loss, Long Island, which lost for only the second time this season, completed one of its most successful seasons, as they took home silver medals. They reached the League Two final for the first time and recorded a team-record 15 wins since the Riders dropped down from the pro ranks in 2006.
After enduring a 26-hour travel day, the Rough Riders who arrived in Ventura at 4:30 a.m. on match day, started out sluggishly.
After 15 minutes, Long Island started to take control of the match, forcing the action and taking three corner kicks. None of those set pieces wound up as dangerous opportunities, though.
All of the scoring took place in the second half.
The Riders struck first as Justin Weiss finished off a nifty multi-pass build-up to score past goalkeeper Tetsuya Kadono from eight yards in the 55th minute.
Ventura equalized on the hour as Nathaniel Opoku, named MVP of the final, connected off a spectacular bicycle kick from point-blank range on the right side of the box past keeper Wessel Speel. Villapando sent Opoku a short pass from the right side to set up the goal.
Both teams hit the woodwork as Vonwinkel did the honors for the Rough Riders in the 65th minute and Opoku for the hosts in the 79th minute.
The Rough Riders were gunning for third USL championship. They won titles in 1995 and 2002. They captured the U.S. Interregional Soccer League crown for their first championship and then the U.S. Pro League title seven years later.
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