5-4, in penalty kicks in the PDL Eastern Conference Championship semifinals at NJIT’s Lubetkin Field.
NEWARK – Carlos Vitor Alvarenga Silva walked up for his shot in the fifth round of penalty kicks with the kind of calm, cool demeanor you would expect from someone practicing on an empty field.
Such composure did Alvarenga Silva and his Jersey Express teammates well. His right-footed shot clanked off the lower-left post and trickled into the net as the Jersey Express advanced past the previously undefeated Charlotte Eagles, 5-4, in penalty kicks in the PDL Eastern Conference Championship semifinals at NJIT’s Lubetkin Field.
The Express and Eagles were tied 1-1 after regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods.
With the victory, the Express (10-3-3) will look to defend their Eastern Conference title in Sunday’s 5 p.m. final against the winner of Saturday night’s New York Red Bull U23/GPS Portland Phoenix match. The Charlotte Eagles finish the season with a record of 11-1-4 in their innagural season in the PDL.
“I always take a penalty kick just like that, very calmly. That goal was just one more important goal in my life,” said Alvarenga Silva. “The pressure gets higher when the ball hits the post, but it went the post and went in and I thank God for that.”
Jersey Express keeper Matthew Turner made a diving save on Charlotte’s Frederick Amankona. From there, Turner’s teammates did the rest getting goals from Juan Correa, William Da Silva, Fernando Cezar Argolo Filho and Gabriel Torres before Alvarenga Silva’s winner. The Eagles got penalty kick goals from Joshua Kremers, Jared Odenbeck, Kyle Culbertson and Nathan Regis.
Charlotte stunned the home crowd by scoring in the final seconds of regulation. Nathan Regis’ shot was stopped by Express keeper Matthew Turner, but Regis quickly gathered the rebound, then passed it back to teammate Joshua Kremers who scored from 12 yards out to force overtime.
The Jersey Express took a 1-0 lead in the 83rd minute when captain Christopher Karcz headed a Francisco Da Silva corner kick inside the near post.
Turner made eight saves for the Express, the biggest coming when he dove to his right to stop Culbertson’s penalty kick attempt towards the lower left corner in the 68th minute. Jacob Dunnett had nine saves for Charlotte.
Overall, the Jersey Express held an 18-13 advantage in shots.