East Atlanta FC’s first campaign in USL League Two came to an end at TowneBank Stadium in Newport News, Va., on Saturday.
A strong second half helped the Legends secure a spot in the League Two playoffs. The club closed out the regular season with 2-1 victory on the road against the Charlotte Eagles. Mere hours later, Charlotte Independence fell to SC United Bantams, 2-1, locking in East Atlanta as the third and final playoff team from the Deep South Division.
The Legends were paired up against The Villages SC for the opening round of the postseason.
The Villages took an early advantage in Saturday’s match. Five minutes after their striker put an open shot wide of the net, Leonardo Paiva sent one home to give his club a 1-0 advantage at the 10 minute mark.
The Legends took a pair of shots on goal in the 19th and 38th minutes, respectively, but neither managed to break through. In the 40th minute, however, East Atlanta’s Adeola Oke laid out for a bicycle kick from the edge of the box and nailed it into the net for the equalizing goal.
In the 52nd minute of the match, the Legends threatened to take the lead on a header from Mohamed Ouaad. The shot was on target, but keeper Jackson Lee deflected the ball off the crossbar to keep The Villages even.
The score remained unchanged until stoppage time, when Paiva dished a ball inside the box to Rafael Vacas, who slipped it past the keeper and into the center of the net to deliver the crushing blow. The Villages held on for the 2-1 decision.