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2018 Eastern Conference Championship Recap

By COLTON CORESCHI -, 07/24/18, 9:00AM EDT


Reading defends home court, claims Eastern Conference title

Reading United AC finished the PDL regular season undefeated and earned the right to host the Eastern Conference Championship last weekend.

It ended the weekend with as few losses and it entered, handling its business at home court to claim the title and advance to the National Semifinals on Saturday. Reading defeated the South Atlantic Division champion Myrtle Beach Mutiny in its opener before meeting and dispatching Mid Atlantic Division rival New York Red Bulls U23 in the final.

Prior to reaching the final, the Red Bulls U23 took down playoff first-timer and Northeast Division champion Black Rock FC, who captured their first divisional title in their inaugural season.

Here's a recap of all of the weekend's action at the Eastern Conference Championship.

Black Rock FC 1-2 New York Red Bulls U23

Photo courtesy Mary Kelleher

The action came fast and heavy in the first match of the PDL Conference Championships. The Red Bulls U23 opened the scoring just two minutes into the match with Jared Gilbey finding the back of the net - despite initially being ruled offsides, which was overturned after the assistant conferred with the center referee. Black Rock FC would strike back just five minutes later, scoring the first playoff goal in team history as Theophilus Quartey assisted Tahzeiko Harris to equalize. The Red Bulls U23 would get the third, final and winning goal inside the half-hour mark, with Kyle Zajec scoring the advancement-securing goal.


  • 2' - NY - Gilbey (Fourrier)

  • 7' - BR - Harris (Quartey)

  • 25' - NY - Zajec (Morrison)

Man of the Match - Kyle Zajec, New York Red Bulls U23

Zajec not only scored the match-winner for the Red Bulls U23, but also went a full 90 minutes in which he unleashed three shots total, acting as a consistent attacking force that pinned the Northeast Division champions back.

Reading United AC 4-3 Myrtle Beach Mutiny

Photo courtesy Mary Kelleher

The second semifinal on Friday didn't open as quickly as the first, but the conclusion was must-see. After settling for just one goal through 70 minutes, Reading and the Mutiny combined for six more in the final 20 minutes, including three from the 87th minute onward. After Reading struck in the first half to take an early lead, the Mutiny equalized in the 70th minute. That even scoreline lasted exactly one minute before Reading struck again in the 71st minute, a lead which only stood another five before the Mutiny equalized again. Reading put the match to bed in the 87th and 90th minutes with two more goals, and a stoppage-time finish for the Mutiny wasn't enough to catch up.


  • 27' - REA - El Medkhar (Hideki)

  • 70' - MBM - Yamamoto

  • 71' - REA - Bennett (Zandi)

  • 76' - MBM - Piggott (Ibarrondo)

  • 87' - REA - Bennett (Greer, Hideki)

  • 90' - REA - Roberts (Reedy)

  • 90' - MBM - Ibarrondo (Amankwa)

Man of the Match - Khori Bennett, Reading United AC

While it was Keiran Roberts who's goal ultimately proved the winner, Bennett's brace gave Reading the lead twice-over and contributed greatly to the club's win.

Reading United AC 2-1 New York Red Bulls U23

Photo courtesy Mary Kelleher

Saturday's final slowed down the action from Friday's semis, with three goals fairly well spread out over 90 minutes. It was all Reading in the first half, as Khori Bennett followed his semifinal brace with another in the deciding match, also taking over as Reading's all-time leading goal-scorer. The Red Bulls U23 battled back after the break, cutting the deficit in half at the hour-mark through Sylvain Coco, with Jared Gilbey picking up the assist, but couldn't find a second as Reading wrapped up the title.


  • 26' - REA - Bennett (Zandi)

  • 42' - REA - Bennett (El Medkhar)

  • 61' - NY - Coco (Gilbey)

Man of the Match - Khori Bennett, Reading United AC

After his Man of the Match performance in the semis, Bennett came to play again on Saturday, raising his tally on the weekend to four goals, more than anyone else so far league-wide.

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