Season: 2022 Regional Cup A

2022 Regional Cup Final: Limeño Georgia vs Limeño U20

The first ever UPSL Georgia Regional Cup Final was going to be decided by a Limeño Derby. Premier Division’s Limeño Georgia would face up against Limeño U20 in a match that would decide the Cup title for 2022 Spring. The road for both teams turned out to be a very entertaining and telling path to the Final.

Limeño Georgia’s path to the final included a strong 7-1 victory against a very young LGSA U17, a 2-2 draw with a FC Matata squad returning back to the Georgia Premier Division after one season off. Then Limeño finally clenched a final appearance with a 3-0 victory over a strong Augusta United FC team which would earn them as favorites in the finals for the cup title.

Limeño U20, which is an academy of Limeño Georgia, had an impressive path to the final as a division 1 team. It was always going to be difficult to progress in a group with 2 Premier Division teams in it, but the young U20s from Limeño did just that. First came a 3-2 victory over new, fellow division 1 team, Pre-College DA where they had to hang on for victory. Then a shock, upset victory over newly promoted Premier Division team, Club The Strongest Atlanta by the score of 5-2. Lastly, ending their group games with a 0-0 draw with another Premier Division team, Potros FC.

So, a great advertisement for the Limeño soccer academy that both the cup finalist hail from the same coaching sources and academy. But what kind of cup final will this produce? The U20s will want to impress and influence their stock for the 1st team and the Premier side will want to show they are 1st team for a reason. So bragging rights will drive this encounter on the day to round out preparations for the Spring 2022 UPSL season.

The match started with a typical sparring between the 2 sides as each waited for the other to settle. This created a sort of stalemate early on as neither side grabbed the advantage and much of the play ended up in the middle of the park. This played well for the underdog U20s who kept things even with possibly an idea to hit hard on the break.

Limeño Georgia began to get more of the possession as the half went on but could not break down the resilience of the U20s back line defenders. But that doesn’t mean that the U20s were hanging on. The U20s had their own serious attacking threats and came close to scoring on a few occasions. Despite this entertaining back and forth, neither team could score, and the teams went into the half still at 0-0.

The 2nd half would bring about the breakthrough that would change the match. The back and forth from the first half continued in the 2nd with the Premier Side getting the better possession. The U20 still were battling toe-to-toe for their own foot hold in the match but the first goal would come on 63 minutes for the Premier division side.

In a magnificent move, Geo Rios collected a long clearance in the midfield then worked his way up the left side carving his way toward center. Rios then played a one-two pass with Marcos Tobar who laid the return pass back to Rios which gave him an opportunity to blast home past the keeper for a 1-0 lead in the match. It would be the breakthrough that changed the match.

Now the urgency would be with the U20s who had to step up their attacking game to try to get back in the match. The chances did come for the U20s but the finishing didn’t. Coming close on a number of occasions brought promises of an equalizer, but Limeño would hold firm in defense. Then somewhat of a back breaker came on 87 minutes.

After good approach play from Saul Tinoco, a through pass to Mateo Alverado produced a shot what elicited a good save from the U20 keeper, but his parry ended up in the path of Gio Rios who again slotted home to give Limeño Georgia the insurance goal and a 2-0 lead very late in the match.

Now, the U20s could only hope for a late consultation after a great effort on the day, but it would be Limeño Georgia with the final clincher deep in added on time and it would be a beauty. The move started with Alexis Aguilar in possession who squared a ball to Geo Rios. Rios quickly saw Saul Tinoco loosely marked and put in a through ball which resulting in Tinoco curling a shot from distance into the top right corner for the 3-0 lead for Limeño. It would be the goal of the match from Tinoco fed in by Man-of-the-Match, Geo Rios.

The whistle would then blow shortly afterward, and Limeño Georgia would celebrate a historic Cup victory as the first ever UPSL Georgia Regional Cup Champion. However, it’s also a statement from Limeño Soccer Academy that their 2 team bested all others to earn an opportunity to play for the Cup title setting an example for other teams in both divisions.

There will be another Regional Cup in the summer for this intra-season competition. This Cup gives teams a chance to prepare for the regular season in a higher pressure and competitive way than just with pre-season friendlies. The competition also gives new and interested teams a chance to match playing talent with teams they will soon compete against in the regular season.

Next up for all 8 teams that competed in this competition is the start of both the Premier Division and Division 1 seasons on March 26.

 

 

 

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Augusta United FC vs Limeño Georgia

In what could be described as a Cup Group Title Decider, Augusta United FC and Limeño Georgia matched up against one another. The winner would decide which of the two would go on to play in the Regional Cup Final next week against Limeño U20. United were in the better position after winning their first 2 group games sitting on 6 points while Limeño had come in having won and tied a game which put them at 4 points.

Limeño would need to win in order to make it to the final but United would only have to draw to earn a trip to the Cup Final. These 2 Premier Division teams will also be expecting to challenge for honors in the regular season and a Cup trophy at this stage of preparation would be the perfect spring board to a successful season.

The match itself started in a frenetic pace as both clubs immediately went after one another with Augusta United getting the better early chances. As the half continued on, a sort of stalemate developed with each side having few opportunities and both defensive thirds managing to stifle all probing attacks thrown at them. The two teams seemed evenly matched on evidence from this half.

The 2nd half would start much the way the first half ended with Augusta having a higher ratio of chances but with no real reward. Limeño’s tiki-taki style of play would be a foundation to the breakthrough for them in the match.

On 54 minutes, Limeño’s creative possession led to an attack down the right wing that produced a waist high cross to a waiting Saul Tinoco standing in front of goal completely unmarked. Tinoco got a free volley into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead and important advantage in the match.

This was the goal that Limeño needed to impose more influence on the match. Augusta now need to score to keep their Cup Final hopes alive but this hope would be harmed just 3 minutes later when Limeño scored again.

After Augusta had lost possession in the midfield with an errand pass collected by Limeño. The Limeño player had plenty of space and time picked out his right winger with a cross field pass to release captain Geo Rios with a move inside. Rios then split to Augusta defenders before burying a shot from inside the penalty area, beyond the reach of the Augusta keeper Ethan Ratliff, for a devastating 2-0 lead near the midway point of the 2nd half.

This goal changed the complexion of the match where there was now a goal cushion for Limeño which means that Augusta would now have to press to try to score 2 goals to get them back level. Limeño would know this and could try to stifle Augusta further to prevent them from chasing the game.

Time did become a factor as wave after wave of Augusta attack was countered with a strong back line of Limeño and the continued threat from Limeño with their own attack. This method of play from Limeño brought about another breakthrough in the match that effectively sealed the victory for them.

Good possession from Limeño found them effectively move forward ending with a fantastic through-ball that split the Augusta back line and released an attacking Limeño player who found himself one on one against Ratliff in goal to reach the pass. The Limeño player got to the ball a split second before Ratliff and unfortunately for the Augusta keeper, brought down the attacking player for a called penalty.

Veteran forward, Marcos Tobar, stepped up and calmly converted the penalty, putting Ratliff off in the wrong direction, to give Limeño what would then seem an unreachable lead with less than 20 minutes remaining in the match.

If Augusta was going to get back in this game, they would need to score quickly and pressure from there, but Limeño were well behind the ball now soaking up pressure and still hitting on the break. Try as they did, Augusta could not break down the Limeño defense.

There were some frantic encounters between the 2 sides late that earned players form both sides a fair amount of yellow cards from referee Horacio Olivera, but control was maintained. The final whistle finally blew after 5 minutes of added time to give Limeño Georgia the 3-0 victory and birth in the first ever UPSL Georgia Regional Cup Final. They will be facing Limeño U20 which effectively will be a Limeño Derby Final and bragging rights from the team from north Georgia.

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LGSA Sub 17 vs Augusta United FC

This match would be the 3rd match on the day in the Georgia Regional Cup and only the 2nd match of the Cup for Augusta United FC due to a 1st group week postponement between them and Limeño Georgia. Augusta’s opponent on the day would be the young LGSA U17 team who are new to the UPSL and will be playing the spring season in Georgia Division 1.

United would be heavily favored against the inexperienced U17 team but that is the magic of a Cup competition. You can have relative minnows matching up with a chance to slay a giant which Limeño U20 have already accomplished earlier in the day by being a division 1 team to win Group B with 2 Premier division teams in it.

LGSA U17 were in no position to win the Group A, but could have a say in who does with any type of result against Augusta today. Augusta on the other hand have a chance to go clear to the summit of Group A with a victory with Limeño Georgia already drawing on the day against FC Matata. Limeño Georgia being their next opponent in the Cup for the last group weekend match.

As expected, the well disciplined and coached United took command of the game from kick off. Controlling possession and closing down the U17s and not allowing them to breath on the ball. This early dominance was rewarded with a beautifully executed goal from a long ball over the top and a one touch volley by Samuel Danner to put United in front after only 12 minutes.

The lead was doubled in the 28th minute from Jason Redmond Jr when a good run up the left wing by Nicholas Cenek resulted in a low cross from which Redmond was able to tap in from inside the 6 yard box for the 2-0 advantage for United.

Only moments later and it was 3-0. Possession from the left side outside the box produced a cross toward goal from which the U17 goalkeeper reached but could only parry into the path of a waiting Ethan Smith and LGSA U17 found themselves with an mountain to climb having not produced any attacking threats up to this point.

It would get worst for the U17s just before the break when penalty call allowed Nicholas Cenek to coolly step up to convert and it was 4-0 going into the break.

After the break, a 2nd penalty was converted by Niall Monahan and at 5-0, the U17s would really be looking for a consolation goal before the end of the match as their new goal. But it was United that held all the cards and on 60 minutes, they had a 6th. Redmond again found the back of the net from a spectacular header from a in-swinging free kick. Some argued that this should have been one of the “Goals Of The Week” when Redmond jumped higher than anyone else to head in and gave no chance to the U17 keeper.

Augusta capped off the route 2 minutes later when LGSA U17 lost all defensive discipline while trying to pass out of their own defensive third only to pass the ball almost to a shocked and waiting Oliver Mercado who made no mistake when his one touch slotted home for an Augusta 7th. This cemented victory and sprang Augusta United to the Group A summit with one game to play in the group stage.

It was a heavy defeat for LGSA U17 but a learning one as well. One of the reasons for the U17s being in this Cup competition was to play top opponents and prepare for the Spring season. It will speed the development of these young players as they look for a pathway to higher levels of play in their young careers.

Augusta United FC are also in the process of preparing for the season but also have a real chance at Cup glory being perfect so far in the Cup. Now only a single group game remains for them against Group A rivals, Limeño Georgia, with the match now being virtually a playoff game with the potential winner earning their place in the Cup Final on March 5th, at 3:00pm at South Gwinnett Park.

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FC Matata vs Limeño Georgia

In this final group stage game for FC Matata, it was a must win situation. With their heavy loss the previous weekend to fellow Premier Division team Augusta United FC, Matata found themselves in a high pressure position to win against another Premier Division team in order to have any chance of making final of the Cup.

Limeño Georgia, however have a game in hand due to a postponement of their 1st group game match which meant that they would not want to drop points either. Limeño’s next match is against Augusta United FC, originally scheduled for that 1st weekend of the Cup. Augusta would also play later in the day and also have a game in hand.

So the stage was set for a slew of high pressurised matches on the day with Matata and Limeño getting us kicked off for a full day of Cup action.

The first half was a nervy affair as both teams had difficulty settling and much of the action was in the middle of the park. Both sides showed flashes of quality but neither could get the advantage and both teams went into the break all even with no score.

The 2nd half gave us more action in attack from both teams but it would be Limeño with the breakthrough. Within the first 5 minutes of the restart, Limeño won a corner kick and took position to attack from there. An in-swinger came in eluding the Matata keeper and went into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after that goal, Limeño extended their lead when a foul in the box earned them a penalty. It was also a red card for the Matata player who gave the infraction which put Matata down to 10 men for the remainder of the game. The penalty was converted and Limeño now had a valuable 2-0 lead putting Matata on the edge of elimination from the Cup.

But this seemed to be a spark from Matata as they now found their attacking stroke and were more threatening even playing a man down. This new attacking spirit was awarded with a fantastic goal from Blake White who drilled in a long range shot form outside the box to bring Matata back into the match at 2-1.

Moments later, from a corner, the in-swinging cross was met by the head of Jean Malilo who jumped higher than his defender and put in an unstoppable header into the top corner of the goal, bringing the game level at 2-2 late in the 2nd half.

Though Matata had now gone level, the current score still favored Limeño who would still be in contention in the group with a draw. It was now up to Matata to keep pushing forward for a winner and a slight chance to advance pending results in the other group match.

Try as they could though, Limeño were able to hold on to the 2-2 result keeping them in contention with one game to play against Augusta United FC. United would go on to win later in the day putting them top of Group A. Next game for Limeño is Augusta United FC in what is going to amount to a playoff type of game where the winner will advance to the Cup Final, but a draw would favor Augusta.

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FC Matata vs Augusta United FC

Augusta United FC come into this Cup for the first time this week after previous engagements kept them from competing on match day 1. One of the Georgia Premier Division teams, Augusta are looking to kick start their UPSL Spring season campaign with success in the Cup this month.

A stern test today for them today will be facing FC Matata who won their first match on Match Day 1 against a young LGSA U17 team the previous week. However, today’s match for them will be a step up in intensity with a fellow Premier Division side.

It is a challenge for each coaching staff to bleed new talent and at the same time take the competition serious enough to play for success in this preseason Cup. So the stage is set for the players and coaches to match wits in this match that will be a factor in who will qualify to move on to the Final on March 5th.

From the kick off, it was apparent that Augusta United FC would be the team dictating the pace. Augusta dominated possession early on and Matata could not find rhythm when they did have possession. Augusta was composed and settled into the game whereas Matata were struggling to hold off a pretty strong attack from Augusta remaining stuck in their own half for long periods of the 1st half.

This good start by Augusta would be rewarded on 10 minutes with a goal from Niall Monahan. Matata were trying to play out of their own third but carelessly were dispossessed by a hard pressing Augusta. A ball was then played through to an unmarked Monahan who slotted in under the keeper and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0 when Jason Redmond converted a penalty from the spot making it a mountain to climb for Matata even at this early stage of the match.

From that point on in the 1st half, Augusta had the better play with Matata with flashes of good play without a real pay off in the final third for them. The teams went into the break with Augusta leading 2-0.

In the 2nd half, Matata got more in the game, but again, could not seriously threaten when it counted most in attack. Augusta remained poised and strong in possession which is a sign of a well coached team. On 62 minutes, Augusta created a mini break down the right wing producing a cross to the middle of the penalty area which was then pushed over to the left side and to a waiting, and totally unmarked, Nicholas Cenek to roll in the goal for a 3-0 lead.

Augusta closed out the scoring in the 78th minute when another mini-break down the right wing produced what maybe should have been a stoppable shot to the near post by Brayden Martinez which went through the grasp of the Matata goal keeper for the 4-0 scoreline.

A good start for Augusta United FC in their first game in the Cup but a bad result by a usually free scoring FC Matata who clearly were suffering without some of their first choice attackers in this match. Matata’s Coach Hippolyt Emekourou will have a lot of work to do to get his squad to close out the competition with a win but more importantly get his team, who took last season off, to get up to competitive speed which will be a hotly contested division this Spring 2022 season.

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Limeño Georgia vs LGSA Sub 17

This was our first look at a Limeño derby with a very young LGSA U17, new  to division one, matching up against a very experienced Limeño Georgia Premier division squad. Limeño come into the Cup against the U17s as their first match of the tournament. Limeño would be heavily favored and would show their metal just 4 minutes into the match when they took an early lead.

Good approach play from Limeño released Marcos Tabor who weaved past a LGSA defender before firing into the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead to Limeño.  A mere 5 minutes later, LGSA equalized through Rene Rodezno to keep them in sight of the dominate Limeño at this early time in the half.

From that point though, Limeño showed their attacking quality with a goal on 13 minutes from Sheik Fofana and 2 minutes later from Kevin Lopez to give Limeño a 3-1 halftime lead. The second half would bring more of the same dominance from Limeño.

Sheik Fofana kept up his attacking prowess with 2 more goals to complete his hattrick and goals added from Alexandre Silva on 80 minutes and a forth from Sheik Fofana completed the 7-1 rout. Even though Limeño had only played the single game in the group stage, they have gone top of Group A on goal difference with 2 group games to play.

 

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LGSA U17 vs FC Matata

The 2022 UPSL Georgia Regional Cup kicked off with the exciting return of FC Matata to the UPSL who had last season taken the 2021 Fall season off as they reorganized as a club. Now they are back getting an early start to the 2022 Spring season by competing in the Regional Cup.

Their opponents on the day were a new, young and talented team from the Limeño academy in the name of LGSA U17. Though very young, this U17 side were not intimidated and played well against some seasoned talent on the Matata side of the ball. But Matata had too much for the youngsters on the day going up 2 nil before the half and adding a 3rd late in the 2nd half to go top of the group after 1 match weekend.

LGSA were moving and passing well only with the failings in the final third. Matata goals from Arthur Bukenya, Yusuf Jalingo and Blake white was the difference in the match but LGSA never game up and seemed to actually get better as the match went on. The experience will be valuable as they can apply what they learned to the rest of the group matches as well as in the 2022 Spring season in Division 1.

In the 2nd half, with more subs coming in from both clubs, LGSA held their own keeping a 2nd closer but unable to draw Matata back on the scoreboard. On the offensive side for LGSA, they lacked the attacking punch to get through against a strong Matata back line which produced the only clean sheet in the Cup on the day. At the final whistle, LGSA would have nothing to be ashamed of as they set the foundation for the coming Division 1 season.

Matata displayed a lot of new, young faces themselves and the future also looks promising for them when you consider that FC Matata Coach Hippolyt Emekourou will merge these new players with his vets for the season coming up. We predict that FC Matata will be another challenger for honors this coming season in the Georgia Premier Division.

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