Portland’s boys’ soccer team couldn’t compete for a Gold Ball this fall, so the Bulldogs settled for a consolation prize.

Winning the City Cup.

Thursday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the Bulldogs got two goals from Steve Matanga and another from Anselmo Tela in a 3-1 victory over a South Portland team that saved its best soccer for the end of the season.

“I’m just so happy for the players,” said Portland Coach Rocco Frenzilli. “It wasn’t easy. South Portland pushed us, but we played as a unit and did what needed to be done to get a win. The guys will walk off Fitzpatrick Stadium having won the last game of their season. It’s really fun to get it all in and end up on the positive side.”

South Portland, which upset Deering in the City Cup semifinals Monday, nearly scored just two minutes into the match, but Bulldogs keeper Ben Littel dove to rob Cullen Adams.

Portland (8-2), which beat Cheverus in its semifinal, took the lead for good in the sixth minute, as Matanga collected a pass from Charlie Howe and beat South Portland keeper Paul Zechman.

Matanga struck again in the 22nd minute, finishing a feed from Gracien Mukwa.

“I knew I was going to score this game and I wanted to be the player of the tournament,” said Matanga, through his interpreter, senior Gabriel Panzo.

The Red Riots roared right back in the 29th minute, as Divin Mpinga won a deflected ball and finished to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Tela restored the two-goal lead with 6:29 to go in the half after a long pass from Panzo.

South Portland had its chances to rally in the second half, but the Red Riots couldn’t solve Portland’s senior goalkeeper, Henry Flynn, who came on after the halftime break. One shot by Joey Perron that did get past Flynn was swept off the line by defender Oliver Hettenbach, who was recently brought up from the junior varsity.

“It was a lot of fun to be on the field tonight,” Flynn said. “We wish we could have had playoffs, but we didn’t have to end the season on a loss.”

South Portland finished with a misleading record of 2-8, as it went toe-to-toe with some of the top teams in the region and gained experience for 2021.

“Portland’s a really good team, but I felt like we had a chance today and I think we did,” Red Riots Coach Bryan Hoy said. “We had a bunch of opportunities.

“I’m happy my seniors got to play this year. The fact that we were here in our uniforms against Portland in November was pretty awesome. There was a lot of adversity this year, but the guys handled it well. We’re losing some important pieces, but we should be set for the next three, four years being really competitive.”


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