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2018 Western Conference Championship Recap

07/25/2018, 1:30pm EDT
By COLTON CORESCHI - colton.coreschi@uslsoccer.com

Foothills dispatch Rapids U23, Tucson on way to title

Calgary Foothills FC entered the past weekend's Western Conference Championship as one of the hottest teams in the entire PDL, winning their final seven regular season matches and shutting out their opponents in the final three. They rode that momentum to two big wins on Friday and Saturday to advance to this weekend's National Semifinals.

Calgary continued its amazing defensive run in the Western Conference semifinal on Friday against the Colorado Rapids U23. The Mountain Division champions looked lost against a stifling defensive showing and were unable to break through. The Foothills also struggled to score for much of the match, but an 86th minute breakthrough from Ali Musse earned a victory and advancement.

Saturday's final saw the Foothills match against FC Tucson, as the Western Conference wildcard pulled off an upset overthe  No. 1 seed and Southwest Division champion FC Golden State Force. Again, Calgary's stifling defense carried them through, shutting out Tucson with a pair of goals lifting them to the National Semifinals.

Here's a recap from all of the weekend's action from the Western Conference Championship.

Calgary Foothills FC 1-0 Colorado Rapids U23


Photo courtesy @baitmedia (Instagram)

With momentum and confidence riding high, the Foothills entered the first semifinal of Friday with great expectations against Mountain Division champion Colorado Rapids U23. On the Rapids U23's part, a slow run of form to end the season left a tough battle against the Foothills looming large. Even so, the Rapids U23 put up an excellent fight, battling the Foothills evenly through 86 minutes before Ali Musse found the opener - and game-winner - for the Northwest Division champs.

Goals

  • 86' - CGY - Musse

Man of the Match - Ali Musse, Calgary Foothills FC

With a special mention to the Foothills defense and Marco Carducci in goal - who made three saves in the shutout - Musse's breakthrough in the 86th was the defining moment of the match and a much-needed one for the Foothills.

FC Golden State Force (1) 2-2 (3) FC Tucson


Photo courtesy @baitmedia (Instagram)

In the most thrilling match of the weekend, FC Tucson gave the Force all they could handle and then some. Despite falling down 2-0 in the first half after goals from Riascos and Villalobos for the Force, FC Tucson came out after the break with renewed vigor. A 63rd minute goal from Angel Rey Heredia gave the team life, and an amazing stoppage-time bicycle from Adrian Valenzuela forced extra time. After 30 scoreless minutes, it went to penalties, where the Force struggled mightily - only goalkeeper Jose Miranda converted out of four takers - and fell to FC Tucson, 3-1, with the wildcard team advancing to Saturday's final.

Goals

  • 20' - GSF - Riascos (Oliveira)

  • 22' - GSF - G. Villalobos (J. Villalobos)

  • 63' - TUC - Heredia (Pando)

  • 90' - TUC - Valenzuela (Heredia)

Man of the Match - Angel Rey Heredia, FC Tucson

After an hour, it seemed like things were over from Tucson, but Heredia's 63rd minute goal brought hope, and his 90th minute assist on Valenzuela's brought belief, which the team fulfilled in PKs to advance.

Calgary Foothills FC 2-0 FC Tucson


Photo courtesy @baitmedia (Instagram)

The Foothills showing in the Western Conference finals was equally as impressive, as the club took on upstart FC Tucson fresh off their upset win over the No. 1 seed Force. The well-balanced effort saw the Foothills score in each half, with William Akio opening the tally in the 38th minute and Ali Musse scoring his second of the weekend to close it out in the 57th. Defensively, the Foothills were sound once again, limiting Tucson to just five shots, only three of which forced saves from the red-hot Marco Carducci in goal. As a result, they secured advancement to this weekend's National Semifinals.

Goal

  • 38' - CGY - Akio (Wheeldon)
  • 57' - CGY - Musse (Akio)

Man of the Match - William Akio, Calgary Foothills FC

In addition to Calgary's amazing defense, Akio had a phenomenal day in attack, scoring the game-winner before assisting Musse's insurance goal in the second-half.


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