December 9, 2018 - BackBay Fens Roberto Clemente Field: Warehouse Gunners defeated Safira in the USASA Mengel Cup State Finals by a score 2-1 in OT.
This year's USASA Mengel Cup State Final featured two of the state's premiere men's teams in both O30 competitions as well as their local leagues and open cup regional/national tournaments. Warehouse Gunners entered the game as the defending 2017-2018 Mengel Cup State Champions and Safira as the 2017-2018 USASA State Amateur Cup and Fricker Cup Champions.
Both teams represented Massachusetts well in last spring's regional competition and both advanced all the way to the USASA Regional 1 Finals in Horsham, PA where they both lost in OT. Coming into the match both clubs were already recognized as top in the state and this faceoff between past state champions was bound to be intense. This match was filled with drama and passion for the game.
Safira made a statement on the game's opening attack. By connecting several passes through the midfield, Safira was able to get center mid #8 Alexandre Correira open just long enough to release a solid strike on net. The opening shot of the game cruised past Gunners goalie and hit the back of the net. GOAL! Within 2 minutes of the opening whistle, Safira had the lead.
Safira continued to possess the ball and move the ball well through the first half. Gunners had opportunities but all we turned away by Safira's defensive line and goal keeper. The score remained 1-0 into halftime.
In the second half, Safira hoping to get a better cushion, subbed in well-known scorer, Junior Alencar. Although coming off injury, he was able to put pressure on the Gunners defense and created a 1v1 opportunity with Gunners goalie, which the goalie was able to save. Junior still injured, had to sub back out.
As the game went on Gunners started to challenge more often and better possess the ball. Through some strategic subs of there own, they began using the width of the field and centering crosses to attack Safira's defensive line. At the 83rd minute, Gunners were awarded a corner kick. The kick was placed well and Gunner's Patrick Jennings was able to get a head on it. The ball clinked the post and bounced back into the net. Gunners had equalized with only 7 minutes remaining.
The game intensified as both teams were unwilling to conceded the game. As stoppage ended, the whistle blew... this game headed to OT.
Although, both teams had opportunities in OT, it was the Gunner's who were able to convert. Ben Shuleva sent a long ball up the right side of the field to JD Gruenewald who got behind the Safira defensive line and went 1v1 with Safira goalie. His goal put Warehouse Gunners up 2-1 in the first half of OT.
Gunners defenders stood strong and held Safira scoreless through the remainder of the game. The final result Warehouse Gunners victorious 2-1. Gunners repeat as USASA Mengel Cup State Champion and will move on to regional play next spring. Congratulations, Warehouse Gunners.