Match Recap: Gilligan Scores Three, MOBA Fall to SC United 4-0 in Season Finale

Well, at long last, the book is closed. Fourteen matches, 1,260 minutes, and the 2017 PDL season has come to its conclusion. Though it may not have gone to plan for MOBA, there are a number of positives to be taken from a season full of negatives, and even though MOBA did not finish where they had hoped, one cannot help but to have high hopes for the coming seasons.

Playing SC United Bantams for the fifth time in two years, MOBA have never gotten a result against their South Carolina rivals, and they had hoped that a home finale would bode well for the yellow and black. Missing key pieces such as Adam Sheikali, Todd Fidler, and Daniel Valenciano, the ninety minutes to come were not going to be easy, but they had nothing to lose. Things got off to an abysmal start, however, as MOBA's Cris Araya went down with a leg injury in the opening minute of play. Immediately after the sub off, MOBA's Jairo Ruiz failed to clear the ball away from the MOBA net in the fourth minute, and the Bantams' Harrison Roberts swept in to collect the scraps and put SC United up a goal early. The clean sheet already gone, MOBA needed to get something going their way, but that just did not happen. In the fifteenth minute, after United's Kevin Fielden was taken down in the box, Joe Vyner stepped up to take the penalty, but in a stroke of luck missed it wide. With the momentum seemingly shifting toward MOBA, it took just one touch to turn it right back around. In the twentieth minute, Koty Millard, who had shown danger all match, pushed the ball forward and crossed it into the box for SC United, finding Ben Gilligan who slotted it home calmly for his first goal of the season. Just fifteen minutes later, it was Gilligan again, this time heading home Vyner's cross to put the Bantams up 3-0 at the half with his second of the match and of the year.

It goes without saying that the first half of matches has never been one to enjoy for MOBA, but this time the lead was shockingly 3-0, MOBA's second largest deficit of the season at the half, behind their 4-0 deficit after forty-five to Nashville on opening day. Something had to change, and head coach Volker Harms had hopes it would be in goal, as Jack Hudson made his MOBA debut after subbing on for Luke Oesterle. Hudson got off to a strong start, keeping the Bantams off the board for the first twenty minutes, but now it was the offense that was struggling mightily to keep possession. In the sixty-fifth minute, things fell apart again for MOBA, as a long scrap in and around the box ended with Roberts taking a rifle shot toward the roof of the net, but Hudson made a diving save. The ball, unluckily, fell at the feet of Gilligan, who coolly placed the ball in the net, securing his hat-trick and putting the road side up 4-0. MOBA just could not get anything going their way in the final twenty-five minutes, and the season ended with a four-goal home loss to SC United, their fifth straight loss to the Bantams.

Yes, finishing 2-10-2 and last in an eleven-team division is less than optimal, but the 2017 PDL season held a lot of promise for the future. Playing with a number of new players and a new head coach, this season featured a few ups and a lot of downs, but there were a number of bright spots. Todd Fidler, a star for MOBA all season long, became the all-time leading scorer in club history with five career goals, passing Omar Jarun who had three. Edmundo Robinson, an integral part of the attack for the yellow and black, scored four goals on the year, a MOBA season record. Defenders Salomon Lorenzano and Adam Sheikali recorded their twentieth MOBA appearances a few matches ago against Tri-Cities, the first two players to that milestone. Arguably the most notable however, defender Michael Brezovsky took home the 2017 #MOBAProud Man of the Year Award, the first time the award has been chosen by the fans, collecting 77% of the overall vote. (A full recap of Brezovsky's award with be posted to in the coming days) Maybe the year did not finish as MOBA had hoped, but the future is bright, as a number of standout players could return for 2018, alongside some new talent, and MOBA will make their push for a playoff spot and a U.S. Open Cup bid. Until then, on behalf of everybody at MOBA Soccer Academy and, we would like to thank the fans for all of their support throughout the season, and we look forward to an incredible 2018!



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