FCC, using a lineup mixed with starters and reserves, dominated from the beginning, but kept with its trend of creating chances and struggling to finish them. The second-year club outshot Cleveland 15-3 in the first half alone.
The home side did see the ball cross the goal line once in the first half when Victor Mansaray contested a ball served in and scored but he was charged with a foul in the collision with goalkeeper Alex Ivanov.
Fall had another close opportunity to score before halftime, but instead of a goal, he ended up with a yellow card. The team’s leading scorer was in perfect position inside the six-yard box for a rebound when Cleveland keeper Alex Ivanov batted away Derek Luke’s shot in the 37th minute, but Fall’s sliding attempt to finish it off was blocked by defender Coletun Long. Fall was charged with taking him down and given the caution.
AFC Cleveland, the defending National Premier Soccer League champion, came out charging to open the second half with two close chances cleared away at the goal line in the first 15 minutes. However, the momentum shifted back in FCC’s favor shortly after veterans Jimmy McLaughlin and Corben Bone entered in the 63rd minute in place of youngster Mansaray and Eric Stevenson, who was making his season debut. Twenty minutes later, forward Kadeem Dacres relieved defensive midfielder Paul Nicholson in a late push for a goal.
It was still all FCC in extra time, which was played in two 15-minute periods, before Fall finally netted one with about five minutes left before the game would have gone to penalty kicks.
“For the bulk of the 120 minutes, we really took it to them,” Koch said. “I’m proud of this group for the resilience they showed. Other teams might go through that and not win. A win is a win and we’ll take it.”