By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — FC Motown struck for three goals during a 19-minute span in the second half and withstood a furious stoppage-time rally to upend Cosmos B to reach the National Premier Soccer League final four Saturday night.
Forward Chris Katona scored one goal and set up another in the 3-2 victory at Commisso Stadium in the Northeast Region final. Dilly Duka added a penalty kick for the winners.
Ivan Berterame, a late second-half sub, tallied twice in stoppage time to make FC Motown sweat in the rain.
FC Motown (12-1-1) moved onto the national semifinals while Cosmos B (12-1-1) finished its season with its first defeat in league play.
The New Jersey-based club, which is the top remaining seeded team from the league remaining in the playoffs, will host the fourth seeded of the final four sides at Drew University in Madison, N.J. next Saturday.
The rain, which had been forecast for the region through Sunday, held off for the first half before a mist started falling at halftime. As the second half progressed, the rain became more persistent.
Not surprisingly, the first half was a tight affair as both sides had their opportunities, although few were on target.
FC Motown goalkeeper Abdoukarim Danso made the first save of the match when he punched away Zaire Bartley’s hard shot from the left side in the 17th minute.
The visitors finally broke through in the 53rd minute. Christopher Katona sent a pass from the left flank to the far end of the box. Defender John Neeskens appeared to have misplayed it and Walter Calderon drilled an eight-yard shot past goalkeeper Kevin Tenjo for a 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Katona went from goal-creator to goal-scorer. This time he latched onto a ball from over the top and beat Tenjo from 17 yards on the right side of the box to lift FC Motown into a 2-0 advantage.
It was the first time this year Cosmos B found itself trailing by two goals in a game.
Life went from bad to worse for the hosts in the 72nd minute as FC Motown was awarded a penalty kick. Duka drilled his attempt into the lower left corner as Tenjo dove the other way for a three-goal margin.
Bartley, who tallied four playoff goals in three matches, could not produce the same magic Saturday night for Cosmos B. He was replaced by Berterame in the 86th minute.
Berterame scored two stoppage-time goals for Cosmos B, the first on a shot from distance, the second off a Darwin Espinal free kick.
With time running out, Espinal fired a 24-yard free kick that Danso dove to save at the right post. Seconds later, the final whistle was blown.