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Jade Tree played Meet The Soccers on Tuesday, February 26, home at the Kirkwood Soccer club. Unbeknownst to both teams, this late kick off would decide the final play off spot for the NCCO Indoor 2007-2008 Season.
The teams, who were in 5th and 6th respectively and otherwise equal on points, were clearly up for the meeting.
Jade Tree United, desperate for a win to end their season, started the stronger of the two. In just under two minutes, Jade Tree had fired off several shots on the MTS goal.
It was MTS however, who, against the run of play, scored the first goal by splitting the JTU defense and sneaking one into the JTU net.
Jade Tree reacted swiftly, as the team engineered an almost immediate response, with Victor Alvarez scoring to tie up the match at 1-1.
As the match continued, both teams were eager to gain the lead, but both â€˜keepers were in fine form and kept out all attempts.
With the game being played at a steady pace, the game ebbed and flowed without much excitement, the exception being a vicious foul on Rich Emge by an MTS player that resulted in an immediate 3-minute plus expulsion. Luckily, Emge emerged unscathed and was able to continue the match.
JTU were unable to capitalize on their one-person advantage and the first half ended with the match still tied at 1-1.
When the match resumed, Jade Tree United look refreshed and ready to exert their dominance.
Jade Tree quickly broke the deadlock when Rich Emge shattered the net with a clear strike from the edge of the box, inspiring his teammates to improve their performance and continue to surge forward offensively.
JTU than began boldly moving the ball forward, as the team slowly crept their defensive line forward, allowing for more JTU chances on the MTS goal.
Alex Milne received the ball from Al Agra and gave one of his patented turns before lifting the ball past the MTS goalie and into the net. With Jade Tree up 3-1, the team continued to accelerate their play.
Continuing the scoring, Victor Alvarez fought for a rebound from Tony Coates’s shot on net to score his second of the night.
While MTS pressed forward, the high line of defense was effective at stopping MTS from mounting an attack.
Krista Butler scored her first goal of her Jade Tree United career (and the first by a woman for Jade Tree United) when she shot low and to the left, expertly beating the MTS goalie.
Jade Tree United was fire, with no sign of fatigue when they lost Rich Emge for two minutes due to his foul on an MTS player. Emge was carded for a rather innocuous foul on an MTS player and silently left the field, serving his one-minute without argument like the true gentleman that he is.
Victor Alvarez would mint his hat-trick by driving forward past the MTS defenses, and slipping his third under the diving â€˜keeper’s arm and certainly cementing Jade Tree’s win on the day.
With seconds left on the clock, MTS made a desperate push forward that paid off for them. As the whistle blew, MTS were able to net their second. But it failed to matter as Jade Tree United had beaten Meet the Soccers 6-2.
With this win, Jade Tree United learned that they had made the playoffs-something that Manager Darren Walters was unaware that the team even had a chance of qualifying for this year.
“I was ecstatic to learn for the officials that we had made the playoffs. I had believed that there was no chance of the team qualifying this year,” the manager said during his already planned post-season press conference. “So here we sit and instead of wrapping up our season, I must speak about our chances in the playoffs.” “I am proud that we have reached the playoffs for the second year in a row and it is further proof that this team continues to gain ground with each year.”
Jade Tree United will go up against Environmental Alliance on Monday, March 3 at the PAL center. When JTU met EA earlier in the season, the team lost 16-6 and played without either goalie. This will be JTU’s chance to make history and move past the first round of elimination and into the second round of playoffs.