Eagles will have to chase first UPSL playoff win on the road
NASHUA – For now, the Eagles will be flying out of town.
Last Saturday’s loss to non-playoff team Lynn United, coupled with two Mass United wins, dropped the Eagles of the International Soccer Club of Nashua to the third seed in the United Premier Soccer League Patriot Division playoffs.
Thus, as Mass United (8-3-1) vaulted over Nashua to take second place, the locals will take on MU on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Dilboy Stadium on Brooke Parkway in Somerville, Mass.
The only way the Eagles (7-3-2) will play another home game this year in their inaugural season at Rivier University’s Raider Field is if they win on Saturday and Boston-based No. 1 Safira FC (9-2-1) gets upsety by fourth seed Lincoln Club Futebol (6-2-4) out of Bristol, R.I. Those two teams play in the first game in Somerville at 5 p.m. Saturday’s winners advance to the division finals a week from this weekend.
“It’s disappointing,” Eagles co-owner Jared Barbosa said. “We were really looking forward to hosting a playoff game, it would have been a great draw. There’s some possibilities after this week, but for now, it is what it is.”
The Eagles tied Mass United 1-1 earlier this season. Nashua has a one-two scoring punch of Quincy Appah and Peguy Ngatcha, and the idea is Ngatcha, a former MLS draft pick (Colorado Rapids) on one side of the field will take the pressure off Appah (12 goals) whom teams have muscled of late, taking him out of plays.
“It’s worked,” Eagles coach Jerold White said of the way his team played in the first half of last week’s loss, after which Nashua led 1-0. “We just made too many defensive mistakes. But sometimes, one guy can make a difference.”
For most of the season, that guy has been Appah, the former Franklin Pierce standout who now resides in Merrimack. “Quincy is that kind of guy, he’s just been a class act from start to finish,” Barbosa said. “Really a fan favorite.”
Nashua, White said, will have to play better defensively in the playoffs or it will be a short post season.
“We have to make sure our defensive responsibilities are taken care of,” White said. “Everybody (in the playoffs) comes a little harder.
“It’s all about who shows up and who plays.”
The eventual Patriot division champion will then advance to the Northeast Conference championship game against the winner of the American Division. That includes other eastern teams such as Rochester (N.Y.) and New Jersey.
Conference champs will then compete in the UPSL Nationals in Colorado in August.
Saturday’s regular season home finale drew about 100 sun-splashed fans, and the team had a season high 500 attend a game in mid-June that was part of a 40th anniversity of the Nashua Youth Soccer League. Much better than the raw, rainy first game ever for the Eagles back in mid-May when the temperature was in the low 50s and a handful of fans showed up.
“This surpassed my expectations, to be quite honest,” Barbosa said. “Both on and off the field. Nashua hasn’t had a professional development-type soccer team for quite a while, so we figured we wouldn’t have a huge turnout right away. With what we had, we were very, very happy.”
Barbosa said that in this his first year of ownership of a franchise and running the business end, there was a learning curve. “I learned a lot,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into this business.”