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Top-ranked Cosmos fall to Miami FC in NPSL final

Say this about the National Premier Soccer League final. The fans got their money's worth at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale on Saturday night.

However, the 5,285 in attendance didn't get an opportunity to watch the Cosmos parade around Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale with the trophy.

Instead, Miami FC did as it celebrated its second consecutive NPSL title after a 3-1 victory.

Man of the match Dylan Mares scored twice within a two-minute span in the opening half and second-half substitute Shawn Chin scored five minutes into stoppage time in an exciting match.

The game lived up to the hype between the top-ranked Cosmos and No. 2 Miami as both teams attacked in a wide-open encounter.

The Cosmos (16-1-1) had their 17-game unbeaten streak snapped and Miami (15-1-0) won its 14th consecutive match.

The hosts got off to a rather shaky start. Not only did they allow two goals in a game for the first time this season, they conceded both within two minutes due to two turnovers by Cosmos captain Danny Szetela.

“I made two mistakes in the first half when they scored both of their goals," he said, "giving the ball away in the middle of the field, which I never make or if I do make it, I never do it twice."

“I feel I let the guys down, but we've got to move forward. It’s going to hurt for me especially. I've been thinking a lot about my career about when it’s time to retire. There's a lot of thinking to do. I don't want to go out like this. So, I know we have the Members Cup. This one was important to me. We'll see how it goes and go from there.”

The Cosmos will have very little time to mourn the loss. They kick off the NPSL Members Cup season Saturday at Chattanooga FC.

“I feel awful,” forward Bledi Bardic said. “I wanted to win so bad. We've got to take what this is and move on.”

Szetela lost a ball that Mares picked up at midfield the latter fed onrushing Miguel Gonzalez on the right side. Gonzalez then crossed to Mares in the middle of the penalty area and the Miami captain powered a shot to the left of goalkeeper Paul Blanchette for a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.

Less than two minutes later, Szetela had the ball dislodged again as Mares latched onto a pass and beat Blanchette for a stunning two-goal lead.

Left back Ansi Agolli, the Cosmos' most dangerous player in the first half, sliced the lead in half in the 31st minute. On a free kick from just outside the right side of the box, Agolli sent what appeared to be a pass toward the net that was just over the head of forward Isaac Acuna that sailed past keeper Mark Pais.

Agolli, who didn't score during the regular season, finished with three playoff goals.

Bardic, the team's leading goal-scorer, replaced Acuna in the 53rd minute and gave the Cosmos some life. His close-range shot from the left side of the box excited the crowd but traveled just right of the net in the 68th minute.

The Cosmos pushed for the equalizer, but their attempts were off target, blocked, or denied by Pais, who parried Ally Hassan's header over the bar in the 86th minute.


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