PORTLAND — After a soccer season in which they posted a division-winning 8-3-5 record, the MPS Portland Phoenix of the USL Premier Development League have clinched a spot in the PDL playoffs.

During the regular season, the Phoenix were 3-2 against the New Hampshire Phantoms (7-6-3), whom they face tonight at 8:15 in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Deering High’s Memorial Field.

The winner advances to the conference semifinals, which begin Friday.

The Phoenix closed the regular season Sunday with a 1-0 loss to the Phantoms at Portsmouth, N.H. Phoenix Coach Paul Baber says this will be an intriguing matchup.

“It’s going to be an interesting game after playing that team a number of times,” Baber said. “Unfortunately on Sunday, we didn’t score. It will be a close game, fiercely contested.”

There are four conferences in the PDL, three of which are divided into two divisions. Portland plays in the Eastern Conference, which has three divisions. The Phoenix won the Northeast Division, but did so with just 29 points, the fewest points among division winners. New Hampshire earned 24 points to place second and earn a playoff berth.

Luckily for the Phoenix, they open the playoffs at home, where they were 5-0-3 this season.

“We’ve had a bit of an up-and-down season in terms of results,” Baber said. “We have struggled to score in some games. Most of our games we’ve won by a goal or two.”

Baber knows his team has natural skill, but being successful is the No. 1 priority.

“We can’t let up weak goals,” he said. “We have a talented team.”

“We are taking it one game at a time and there is no point looking at the playoff picture further than the game (today),” Baber said on Monday.

Jason Massie is a product of the Liverpool youth academy program in England and serves as the Phoenix’s captain. He led the team with five goals and seven assists, factoring in half of Portland’s 24 goals.

His status for tonight’s game is questionable because of an ankle injury suffered in Sunday’s game.

Massie says the team’s mental preparation is a key, and that he expects the team to be ready. The team has a broad mix of experienced players, he noted, including strong contingent of local talent.

“We are looking one game at a time,” Massie said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We are trying to get mentally prepared.”

Staff Writer Austin Pollack can be contacted at: 791-6356 or at: [email protected]