Sacir Hot (right):  “The guys fought to the end. Soccer’s a cruel sport, man. On any given night, this game could have went the other way.” (Photo courtesy of FC Motown)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

MADISON, N.J. — No doubt FC Motown has lived on the edge during the National Premier Soccer League playoffs.

Three of its last four matches have been decided late, really, really late in dramatic finishes.

Here are Exhibits A, B and C:

In the Keystone Conference final July 14, the Morristown, N.J.-based club needed a 90th-minute goal to equalize and forced extratime against West Chester United Soccer Club before prevailing in a shootout.

In the Northeast Region final July 21, FC Motown cruised to a three-goal advantage in the second half before staving off a stoppage-time rally by Cosmos B to register a 3-2 victory.

And in the national semifinals July 28, an injury-time goal by substitute David Nigro — a close-range header — in the second extratime to defeat FC Mulhouse Portland, 2-1.

“We squeezed out the West Chester game, the Cosmos game and this one, we squeezed out,” head coach Sacir Hot said Saturday night. “The guys fought to the end. Soccer’s a cruel sport, man. On any given night, this game could have went the other way. I want to congratulate Portland. They were phenomenal. Hats off to them. They were one of the strongest teams we’ve played this year. I feel sorry for them because they played a phenomenal game and it just happened to go our way.”

FC Motown dominated the match and made goalkeeper Scott Dalrymple produced several vital saves to keep Portland in the match.

“Tonight wasn’t our night with finishing,” Hot said. “We had about six chances that we should have tucked away. A couple of 1 v 1s with the goalie. He was phenomenal tonight. The guy stood on his head and kept his team in this game. Sometimes it just doesn’t want to go in.”

We’ve seen it happen so many times in soccer where a team takes more quality shots and has a sizable possession advantage, but fails to convert its chances and ultimately pays a big price with a devastating defeat.

“I mean in my experience in soccer, when you don’t finish your chances, the other team usually comes back and capitalizes,” Hot said. “I was afraid this game was going to be one of those when you just can’t get the ball in the net and the other team just does enough just to squeeze out a win. I was concerned that could have been a possibility.”

Of course, Nigro took care of that and made sure FC Motown avoided the dreaded penalty kicks.

“We obviously wanted to finish the game before penalty kicks because they can go either way but I was still confident in [goalkeeper] Kabo Danso and the boys to get the job done,” said Matt Nigro, David’s older brother. “We knew that we needed to push the game and continue to create chances until the final whistle; the boys just didn’t give up. Dave and Lucas [Terci] combined to finish the game in extratime and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. No better feeling than seeing your little brother nod the winner in the 120th minute.”

FC Motown has lost only once this season — a 2-1 setback to West Chester in the regular-season finale. It will enter the final with a 13-1-1 mark.

“I believe we earned our spot to get here,” Matt Nigro said. “We had to grind out a lot of games and put in gritty performances but that’s what it takes to win silverware.”

We’ll find out Saturday night when Hot and FC Motown will their sights for Miami FC 2, which it will host at Ranger Stadium on the campus of Drew University at 7:30 p.m.

“Miami is a great team,” Hot said Saturday night. “They started off slow. I believe they got a bunch of their NASL guys back from last year. That’s someone tomorrow when I wake up I’ll start scouting right away and come up with a game plan on how to take advantage of our strengths and limit their strengths.”