Foothills FC’s Season Ends in Opening Round of USL2 playoffs
Foothills FC lost 3-2 on Saturday night to the Ventura County (CA) Fusion to end their quest at defending their 2018 championship in the USL2.
Due to some uncharacteristic errors, and a goal against in the third minute, Calgary’s team trailed 3-0 at halftime and crawled back but the clock ran out.
Head Coach Leon Hapgood talked about how things went from bad to worse in the first 45 minutes.
“We made two basic errors that we haven’t made all season. We recovered from the first goal really well. Their keeper made a brilliant save off Willy (Akio) which would have made it 1-1.
Then there was a poor back heel to clear the ball, their man grabbed it, walked in and scored.”
“Then we were just trying to get to halftime, a bit shell shocked, we gave up a corner, two men were in the wrong position and it was an easy tap for them right at the 45th minute (to make it 3-0).”
Aribim Pepple, who placed his fifth goal in consecutive matches, and Tofa Fakunle scored in the second half in what Hapgood a better effort.
“In the second half we were by far the better team. Full credit to the players because they did it. It wasn’t about style of play; it was being more direct to try to score goals. We just ran out of time.”
“Ventura County were an aggressive, dangerous team, and very physically savvy. Credit to them because they punished us for our mistakes.” Hapgood said of the Fusion, who advanced to the next round to face the home side, the F.C. Golden State Force.
Several of the players have likely made their last appearance at the U23 level for Foothills and are destined for greater things, and the coach hopes that exactly what happens.
“In my opinion there are players who need to be in a bigger environment and be pushed to the next level. We grew as a group and the players did as individuals. Whether these players stay with me or go back to their school and advance to a better league, it’s all about them learning and growing as individuals.”
The 72 team league continues its road to a new champion over the next two weeks. Of the four semifinalists in 2018, only one team, Reading United, has advanced past the opening round of this year’s playoffs.
Foothills FC concludes 2019 with a 9-3-2 record and their third Northwest division title in four years.