Saint Louis F.C. Eliminated From Playoff Contention In Loss vs. North Carolina F.C.
St. Louis, MO- What began as a season full of hope and excitement for Saint Louis F.C. and their supporters ended in disappointment and regret Saturday night. The manner in which it ended only compounded those feelings.
In their USL regular season finale, STLFC lost to North Carolina F.C. 1-0 after conceding a goal from a set piece in the 90th minute.
The loss, combined with the Charleston Battery’s 5-1 win vs. Bethlehem Steel F.C. earlier that day, meant that the result of the Birmingham Legion F.C. vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds match would not matter. STLFC had been eliminated from playoff contention.
STLFC head coach Anthony Pulis made a few changes to his starting 11 for the team’s final match but elected to once again keep club captain and center-back Sam Fink on the bench. The defender never made it into the match.
Both teams came out strong defensively to start the match, but NCFC would begin to take control around the half hour mark. Forward Marios Lomis would receive a cross in the 29th minute and hit a shot on the half-volley, but his effort was tipped over the bar by STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez.
In the 35th minute, NCFC would have another great opportunity to open the scoring. Dre Fortune would lay the ball off for Steven Miller, but the midfielder would drag his shot just wide left.
Fortune would be directly responsible for the best chance of the first half when his powerful effort from the top of the box forced a spectacular save from Gomez just before the halftime whistle.
It was a bizarre start to the second half when NCFC were able to send Miller in on goal right from the kickoff. The midfielder seemed to take a boot to the face from an STLFC defender, but no call was given by the referee.
A few minutes later, NCFC were again asking questions of the official when it looked like Miller was held back by Sean Reynolds of STLFC as he tried to attempt a shot in the box. No call was given again, and Miller’s weak attempt would be saved by Gomez.
STLFC started to build offensive momentum in the 52nd minute when Phanuel Kavita got loose on a corner, but his header went sailing over the bar.
During their next offensive move, STLFC played in on goal left-back Bradley Kamdem-Fewo. The defender got good power on his shot, but it would be saved at the near post by NCFC goalkeeper Alexandros Tabakis.
NCFC began to reestablish their attack in the 74th minute when a series of one-touch passing would tee up Miller for another shot, but Gomez was up to the task once again to make the save.
In the 86th minute, NCFC were able to break into the STLFC box off of a counterattack. Miller’s sliced shot would deflect off of Reynolds on goal, but Gomez was able to adjust and make the save.
While the defense of STLFC were able to hold on for 90 minutes, they would be guilty of another momentary relapse that would, this time, seal their playoff fate.
Fortune would send a free kick from the far side towards the middle of the box. Substitute Robert Kristo would be there to meet it unmarked and power his header into the back of the net. NCFC would hold on to take all three points and end STLFC’s season.
STLFC went winless in their final six matches after setting a club record last month with five straight wins. Four of those losses came via a 1-0 scoreline.
Overall, STLFC finished the season in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with an 11-9-14 record, which yielded 42 points. They finished one point behind 10th place Birmingham.