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Lions advance in frenetic UPSL Conference semifinal match

Beaman United FC beat St. Louis City SC U21 Saturday afternoon in Brentwood, Tennessee in a dramatic 5-4 semifinal win.

Gift Ndam’s boys started well by controlling possession and establishing their presence in City’s half since the first minutes of the match.

Seth Poku created the first Lion threat from his left foot with a powerful effort from outside the box, but it was saved by the City goalkeeper.

A response from St. Louis came quickly following.

In the eight minute, Beaman lost possession defensively. The St. Louis forward exploited the opportunity and took a shot on Beaman’s goal, but the attempt was saved with the legs by a sensational Alex Rodriguez, keeping the game scoreless.

Beaman recomposed on the field, and in the 11th minute found the lead off a counterattack. Alphonso Gooden played a perfect through ball for forward Ryan Roussel, who quickly dribbled around the goalkeeper and placed the ball in the net.

Despite the 1-0 lead, City played its game and came close again to Rodriguez’s goal, but the Spanish keeper, in great form, denied St. Louis the opportunity to tie.

In the 23rd minute, Gooden won a free kick a few yards outside of the eighteen. Roussel for Beaman bend it over the wall and beat the goalkeeper, getting the brace and leading the Lions to a 2-0 advantage.

However, the two-goal lead did not last long as St. Louis was able to capitalize with four minutes left with a tap-in goal.

The second half turned into a seesaw battle with both sides wanting the victory.

In the 54th minute, Gooden attempted to re-establish the two-goal advantage with a shot on the front post inside the box, but he was denied by the keeper.

Five minutes later, Rodriguez made another great save preventing St. Louis from tying the game, keeping Beaman alive.

But in the 65th minute, the Spanish wall was brought down when a forward for City released an unstoppable shot into the right upper ninety, finding the equalizer.

Within the next five minutes, the Lions went from drawing 2-2, leading 3-2 to tying again after another City comeback.

On a corner inside the box in the 81st minute, Kwadwo Poku was able to find the advantage once again for Beaman putting the ball into the net off a rebound.

Two minutes later, St. Louis incredibly managed to find again the equalizer with a deflected shot deceiving Rodriguez.

However, the game was not over for the Lions.

In the 85th minute, the Michael Jones Jr. and Hayden Black duo made it 5-4 for Beaman, sealing the game to send the Lions to the final.

“We were able to come back in a difficult game,” said Rodriguez. “The game went crazy but we had that ability to come back and get the result.”

The team needs to improve its defensive game and staying switched on, especially in transition, said head coach Ndam.

Rodriguez agrees.

“The next game we need to work on our defense and be more compact,” he said.

Beaman will play next on the road on Dec. 11th at the Elizabethtown Sports Park to face Deportivo Mi Jalisco in the UPSL Conference Finals.

“Every single team in our conference and after the conference are very different from each other,” said Ndam. “Our goal is to continue to find ways to break down opponents, while staying switched on defensively.”

By Federico Pravettoni

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