On Sunday, Inland Empire Football Club won against local side Fontana Legacy 2-1 in the first leg of the Brent Freeman quarterfinals.
This matchup would be the second encounter between both teams in competitive play. In the first matchup during the regular season, Fontana Legacy won 4-3 back in October. Fontana did face the IEFC first team during cup play, but I won’t count that for this context. In their last cup game, Fontana topped Chapman FC 4-3 to reach the quarterfinals, while IEFC reserves blanked West Grove FC 3-0.
On a freezing day following a historic SoCal winter blizzard that covered the city of Fontana with a layer of snow, both teams were set to kick off in 45-degree weather at the Ralph Lewis sports complex.
In the first few plays, IEFC would get two successful offside traps on Legacy’s Kevin Jackson, one of them denying an early goal. Once that settled, it was evident how different both teams played their game.
Fontana, on the attack, would always push forward from winning a turnover but missing the connection on the passing. They hardly played short passes and relied more on the longer through passes for their forward to beat the defenders on a bouncing ball. This plan proved successful occasionally, as the IEFC defense was outrun more often.
For the boys in black, however, they were not afraid to play the ball in the middle of traffic in the center circle to Fontana’s final third and then distribute to a winger after baiting the Legacy defense. They did get more shots than their opponent.
One opportunity resulted in a goal from the previously mentioned attack. The attack was an IEFC player giving a pass to the right side of the box for Theodore “Theo” Garidas all alone to place the ball to the far left side of the net.
Now Fontana has started clicking with their passing, reaching their forward targets as IEFC went more defensively, intercepting passes but failing on the 2v1 pressure to prevent Legacy forwards from passing.
Yet, with the change of tides in favor of the blue team, IEFC got a goal off a turnover in Fontana’s final third that saw Eric Galindo give IEFC the insurance goal. 2-0 for the black team, as the half would end with them on top.
The second half kicked off, and the game would get sloppy with the ball bouncing a lot more as both teams would boot the ball away from pressure resulting in lots of ariel battles. Yet the boys in blue continued having the waves of attack as they took more shots since they reached IEFC’s final third. However, their finishing was not there.
They pushed on as they had more possession, and eventually, it paid off with the response goal by Julio Acquino. Legacy got a counter that sees a play similar to IEFC’s first goal, where Julio gets a pass alone on the right side of the box and finishes it to the left.
The game became back and forth from both teams as IEFC played the long ball and got some chances while Fontana continued their style of play and was knocking on the door, trying to get the tying goal.
Unfortunately for the blue team, the time ran out, and the final whistle ended the match with IEFC winning 2-1.
The second leg of this quarterfinals will be on Sunday, March 26th, at 6 pm at the Ralph Lewis sports complex with the aggregate score of 2-1. They will meet again before this match in league play on March 12th.
Special shoutout to Josue Ceballos, defender of Fontana Legacy, a friend I’ve known since middle school. We had our salutations, and it’s good to see friends going out and getting their game on. The soccer world is truly small.