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United's 2017 season ends in playoff defeat

By Ryan Lineaweaver, 07/19/17, 9:30AM EDT

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Amesbury, MA. (July 18, 2017) – Nine minutes. Nine minutes is all it took for Reading United’s season to effectively come to a close on Tuesday evening against Seacoast United Phantoms. Goals in the 17th, 22nd, and 26th minutes by the Phantoms shocked the visiting United, who were unable to close the gap during the remaining play.

Reading held the ball well over the first 15 minutes of play, but fell victim to a close call on the first Phantoms goal. Donnett Sackie retrieved a loose ball in the box that slipped behind United’s defense, and poked it past Reading goalkeeper Justin Saliba.

Five minutes later, Reading was caught flat footed on a set piece, and again allowed Seacoast to slip in behind their back four. This time, Ivan Blaskic was able to track down a ball on the right side of the box, and slot it home for a two goal advantage.

Seacoast would put the game out of reach four minutes later, as Audi Jepson was able to find space down the right flank, and deposited his shot at the far post for a 3-0 lead.

Reading would pull one back in the 40th minute, as Evan Finnegan was taken down harshly in the box to draw a penalty kick. Aaron Molloy’s drive from the spot was tipped by the keeper, slammed against the bottom of the crossbar, and bounced over the line for the lone goal of the evening for United.

Reading would frantically search for another goal during the second half, often controlling the run of play for large spans of time. Seacoast GK Thor Hoefs made four saves over the final period, and saw multiple other attempts go high or wide.

With the victory, Seacoast United Phantoms advanced to the Eastern Conference Championships, being held in Statesboro, GA this weekend.

Factoring in New York Red Bulls U23s loss to Northeast Division’s Long Island Rough Riders, the evening was a complete reversal of the previous year’s playoff round. The 2016 play-in round saw the Mid-Atlantic Division sweep the Northeast, with Reading and Ocean City Nor’easters advancing to the Eastern Conference Championships.

The season was a record breaking one for Reading, who set new regular season franchise records for goals conceded (10) and points per game (2.57). Reading’s 12 victories tied the club with the New York Red Bulls U23s and the Oklahoma City Energy U23s for the most wins in the 72 team league.

READING UNITED LINE-UP

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')