Fusion captures first championship

[PDL] Alfonso Motagalvan scored on a goalmouth scramble in stoppage time to give the Ventura County Fusion a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire, making the California team the lowest seed ever to win the Premier Development League championship.

In its third year, the Fusion won its first championship, played before a sellout crowd of 3,500 fans at Buena High School, despite playing for nearly an hour with just 10 men after

Ventura took the lead in the ninth minute on Ivan Becerra's goal off former Chivas USA player Rodrigo Lopez's corner but then lost midfielder Manny Guzman with a red card after he clashed with Chicago midfielder Mark Blades.

The Ventura did a good job to holding off the Fire attack until the last quarter of an hour when Harvard star Andre Akpan evened up the game when he deflected Blades' cross into the goal.

"It's a wonderful night for us, and a good advertisement for the game," said Fusion coach Graham Smith. "We battled well. We were pushed onto the back foot after the red card, but that galvanized us to stay strong. It's a great night for Ventura, but really this belongs to the players. They performed in brutal weather down in Texas last week, and really played well tonight. This is their night."

Smith had been sent out for entering the field in the Fusion's celebrations after the winning goal.

Referee Alejandro Mariscal had earlier sent off Ventura assistant coach Ole Mikkelsen and Chicago head coach Larry Sunderland.

Ventura finished third in the Southwest Division and beat the Los Angeles Legends, Hollywood United Hitmen, Kitsap Pumas and Bradenton Academics to reach the final.

Chicago was playing in its championship game. It was beaten by the Cape Cod Crusaders in 2002.

Aug. 8 in Ventura, Calif.
Ventura County 2 Chicago 1. Goals: Becerra (Lopez) 8, Motagalvan 90; Akpan 74.
Ventura County -- Hill, Barna, Becerra, Riley, Smarte (Guerrero, 90), Byrne (Guei, 76), Guzman, Lopez, Motagalvan, Barrera (Avesyan, 82), Hamilton.
Chicago -- Maurer, Campbell, Rice, Schuler, Sinovic (Morrow, 46), Blades, Braun, Edgar, Knotek (Cutshaw, 46), Adlard, Akpan.
Red card: Ventura County -- Guzman 33
Referee: Alejandro Mariscal.

 

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