Three first half goals doomed Reading United in a Premier Development League playoff opener on Tuesday night in Massachusetts as they fell 3-1 to Seacoast United Phantoms.
The Phantoms, winners of the Northeast Division, did all of their offensive damage in a nine-minute span in the first half, shocking one of the stingiest defenses in the league (10 goals conceded in 14 regular season matches) with goals in the 17th, 22nd and 26th minutes.
Donnett Sackie, Ivan Blaskic and Audi Jepson had the goals while Blaskic added an assist and Marcos Bautista had a pair of assists.
Aaron Molloy did pull a goal back for the visitors in the 40th minute, converting from the penalty spot after Evan Finnegan was pulled down in the box with a harsh challenge. Molloy’s shot was tipped by the goalkeeper and hit the crossbar before crossing the line. The goal was the eighth of the year for the Penn State bound forward.
Needing goals in the second half, Reading United was able to control the run of play but Seacoast goalkeeper Thor Hoefs had four saves in the second half and six overall to book a spot in the Eastern Conference Championships in Statesboro, Georgia this weekend.
Mid-Atlantic regular season champions New York Red Bulls U23 were also knocked out of the playoffs on Tuesday by Long Island Rough Riders, meaning two of the three teams with the best records in the league (Reading United and Red Bulls U23) are no longer in the playoff hunt.
With the loss, Reading United’s overall record for 2017 was 14-4-2 in all competitions counting their one playoff game and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches.
Reading United Lineup
GK - Justin Saliba; DEF - Paul Marie (Khori Bennett 73'), Lamine Conte, Nathan Brown, Jakov Basic (Kaelon Fox 46'); MID - Aaron Molloy, Zach Zandi (Pablo Aguilar 66'), Hugo Delhommelle: FWD - Jelani Pieters (Ivan Abramovic 55'), Frantzdy Pierrot, Evan Finnegan (Gilbert Waso 73')