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2002 A-League Playoffs - First Round

Charlotte Eagles 1 - 0 Montreal Impact

Location: UNCC Transamerica Field, Charlotte, NC
Game Conditions: Overcast, humid 90
Attendance: 546

Starting Line-ups
Charlotte                Montreal
1  GK Richard Goddard    1  GK Greg Sutton
4  M Nate Watkins        2  D Adam Braz
5  D Kevin O'Brien       4  M Nick DeSantis
6  D Hugo Galeano        5  D Nevio Pizzolitto
7  M Leo Gajardo         8  D Gabriel Gervais
9  D Victor Barria       10 M Ze Roberto
11 D Dwayne Demmin       12 F Eduardo Sebrango
18 F Dustin Swinehart    14 D Drew Kopp
19 M Jamie Wellington    17 F Patrice Bernier
20 F Jacob Coggins       20 M Mauro Biello
23 M Andy McDermott      21 M Giuliano Oliviero

Game Preview

This was the opening game of the 2002 A-League playoffs. Montreal is making their first appearance in the A-League playoffs since 1998 while the Eagles are making their second straight appearance in the playoffs since moving up from the D3 league last season, and their ninth appearance in their ten years as a team. The Eagles were underdogs to get into the playoffs and earned the sixth and final spot with a 3-1 win in Rochester. The Eagles are 3-2 over their last five games, defeating Rochester and Richmond on the road and Richmond a second time at home while losing at home to Hampton Roads and on the road to Montreal in overtime. Montreal was in a fight for the top spot in their division until the final game of the regular season. They are 4-1 over the last five games defeating Atlanta at home and Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto on the road while losing to Portland on the road.

Montreal won the 2002 season series 2-0 having won in Charlotte 1-0 on May 13th and at home on August 14th in overtime 3-2.

Game Summary

The Eagles started quickly and very neared scored in the 3rd minute of the match as Dustin Swinehart beat Impact keeper Sutton only to have his shot cleared by defender Nevio Pizzolitto. The next several minutes saw the teams settle down and play was very conservative. The Eagles break came in the 17th minute when Jamie Wellington placed a perfect corner kick to a breaking Dwayne Demmin who headed the ball past keeper Sutton into the back of the net. This was Dwayne's second game winning goal in the last three games. Demmin, who injured his back in the Eagles win over Rochester on Friday, came out of the play hurting. It affected his play the rest of the game as he rarely ventured out as far as midfield. The Eagles created several other good scoring opportunities in the first half but either failed to finish or were denied by the Impact defense. The best scoring opportunity of the first half for the Impact came in the 34th minute as Eduardo Sebrango made a run up the middle through the Eagles defense and took a shot that was just deflected over the top crossbar by an Eagle defender. The first 35 minutes of the half were pretty even in terms of possession and control of play. Montreal dominated the last 10 minutes of the half, putting constant pressure on the Charlotte defense but failing to get on the board.

The second half revealed a change in strategy for the Eagles. They switched from an attacking style of play to a very defensive style, often putting 10 men behind the ball. The game wasn't always pretty to watch but it was effective as the Impact found it increasingly difficult to create scoring opportunities. The best goal scoring opportunities for the Impact in the 2nd half came in the 60th minute and the 74th minute. The first came as Mark Rowland made a beautiful move up the left side of the Eagles defense. As everyone expected him to cross the ball, Rowland cut inside and took a low, hard shot, which was saved on an excellent play by Eagle keeper Goddard. In the 74th minute, Sebrango made a strong run up the right side and took a line drive shot that just missed the net. The remainder of the match the Eagles defense held the Impact in check and the game ended Eagles 1-0 Impact. Charlotte keeper Goddard earned his second shutout in the last three games in the win.

Overall, neither team played their best soccer in this game. Charlotte played well at times and then seemed confused at times. It seemed as if they were uncertain how to play the defensive style often necessary in the playoffs and then were hesitant to take advantage of offensive opportunities they created. The Charlotte defense was outstanding for most of the game. They swarmed the ball and Montreal's offense found it very difficult to find openings. The Montreal defense was tested early, but not really in the 2nd half as the Eagles fell back into a more defensive style of play. The Impact offense is potent and will be aggressive at home in the second game of this series. The Eagles will have to be on top of their game to hold off the Impact and advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

Man of the Match

The Eagles do not announce any official single game honors. Our selections would be Richard Goddard and Dwayne Demmin. Both were outstanding in defense. Goddard picked up his second shutout in the last three games and has become a real leader for the Eagles defense. Demmin played injured but managed to score the game-winning goal for the 2nd time in the last three games.

Game Stats

Scoring     1   2   1OT 2OT Final
Charlotte   1   0           1
Montreal    0   0           0

Scoring Summary  Minute  Goal    Assist
Charlotte        17th    Demmin  Wellington

Shots       1   2   1OT 2OT Final
Charlotte   6   6           12
Montreal    8   11          19

Saves       1   2   1OT 2OT Final
Charlotte   2   3           5
Montreal    1   1           2

Fouls       1   2   1OT 2OT Final
Charlotte   5   2           7
Montreal    9   5           14

Offside     1   2   1OT 2OT Final
Charlotte   0   1           1
Montreal    0   1           1

Corners     1   2   1OT 2OT Final
Charlotte   1   1           2
Montreal    2   4           6

Cautions  Player        Team
Min. 30   A. Braz       Montreal
Min. 67   N. Pizzolito  Montreal

Team        Minute  Player In           Player Out
Charlotte   40th    Caleb Norkus        Jacob Coggins
Charlotte   53rd    Andy Guastaferro    Jamie Wellington
Montreal    56th    M. Rowland          N. DeSantis
Charlotte   63rd    Carlos Calderson    Victor Barria
Montreal    65th    P. Leduc            G. Oliviero
Montreal    70th    J. DiTullio         A. Braz
Montreal    76th    D. Fronimadix       D. Kopp
Charlotte   79th    Rob Mouw            Dustin Swinehart
Montreal    89th    N. Henry            G. Gervais

Many Thanks to News Digger John Zukas who scours up all of the local news links during the year.