Appalachian FC secure 4-1 conference semi-final victory


Aldo Sarabia

Appalachian FC players corral midfielder London Williams after he scores a goal in the second half of a 4-1 victory.

Alex Urquiza, Reporter

Appalachian FC secured a 4-1 victory over Apotheos FC at the Ted Mackorell Soccer complex Wednesday. The Black and Gold hosted the National Premier Soccer League Southeastern Conference semi-final, winning and hosting their first playoff game.

“It feels great. I think we have to realize the good that we’ve been doing the last couple of years to the community and appreciate nights like tonight,” head coach Dale Parker said.
Appalachian FC took the lead in less than 20 minutes as striker Kevin de Lange opened the scoring. Center attacking midfielder Jeremiah Luoma stole the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box with Luoma and de Lange against one Apotheos FC defender. Luoma passed the ball to an unmarked de Lange, who placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal. 

Apotheos FC entered the match with only eleven players, just enough to field a starting lineup. The lack of squad depth for the visitors and the home crowd advantage for Appalachian FC showed instantly in the second half. 

The Black and Gold maintained possession for the start of the second half, passing with slow build-up play from the back. Appalachian FC doubled its lead less than 10 minutes into the second half after scoring a goal that consisted of 14 passes off a throw-in. Luoma received the 13th pass and spun by his defender to find Appalachian FC midfielder and captain Dennis Bates inside the penalty area who slotted the ball into the net. 

Three minutes later, Appalachian FC scored its third goal of the night off a counter attack. Midfielder London Williams played a one-two pass with striker Angelo Fabricio backheeling the pass to Williams who drove into the penalty box and scored with a powerful strike. 

Although it was three goals down away from home, Apotheos FC showed its fighting spirit as it was able to snatch a goal off a set piece in the 66th minute. Apotheos FC crossed the ball into the penalty box and midfielder Luis Cervantes lost his marker and volleyed the ball into the net. Appalachian FC goalkeeper Lucas Daunhauer got a hand on the ball, but Cervantes’ strike was too strong for the keeper, and the visitors made it 3-1 with 25 minutes left. 

In the 87th minute, striker Camden Holbrook scored Appalachian FC’s fourth goal off a volley to secure a 4-1 victory and a spot in the Southeast Conference final.

“We got a really driven group of players that are so focused on winning the championship … we want to quickly move on,” Parker said. “We want to enjoy it and remember how it feels and do it all over again on Saturday.”

It was a strong team performance, but Luoma’s standout success secured two assists and won the ball to start the counter attack for the third goal.
“If I’m not scoring, I would like to provide,” Luoma said. “First final in the club’s history, so it’s a must win. I’m very excited and buzzing right now.”

At the start of the season, Parker stated the team’s goal this season was to host a playoff game. Now, the team has surpassed its goals and advanced to the conference final for the first time in just their second season, while also hosting the match. 

Appalachian FC faces off against North Alabama Soccer Club in the Southeast Conference final Saturday at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex at 7:30 p.m.