Papillion, NE - A dazzling late-season run from the Greenville Triumph Soccer Club came to an abrupt end in the 2021 USL League One Final, as the club fell one win short of a repeat title after a 3-0 loss at Omaha's Werner Park on Saturday night in the championship match.
Greenville came in as the underdog, facing the league's top club on a narrow field in front of an Omaha crowd of over 5,000. The rematch of the COVID-cancelled 2020 League One Final got off to a quick start, with Union Omaha seeing a number early chances with bodies in front of the net. The home team was able to break through and establish a lead in the opening minutes as lots of traffic in front of goal produced a goal from Damia Viader off an Evan Conway cross.
In the 26th minute, Greenville got their best chance on goal in the first half, as a whipped-in cross found midfielder Noah Pilato in dangerous position. Pilato headed the ball, but it sailed just wide of goal. Omaha's attack refocused after the Triumph threat, and the Owls were able to double the lead on a similar goal just before the half when Greg Hurst connected following a series of short passes inside the 18'.
Greenville saw another chance right before the half when Jesus Ibarra fell over Omaha goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu in the box. Despite the cries from the Greenville fans in attendance, a penalty was not given and the Triumph headed in to the locker room with a two-goal deficit.
Greenville threw everything towards goal in the second half, subbing on a number of attacking substitutes in an effort to claw back and force extra time. As the minutes ticked down, Greenville got a break after Omaha's Evan Conway was sent off following a second yellow card. Down a man, though, Omaha moved to a more defensive shape to preserve the lead. The Triumph got more chances in the final minutes, with an Alex Morrell header just missing the net in the 83rd minute.
In stoppage time, Greenville thought they had their first goal when Andrew Booth headed a cross from Morrell in to Nuhu. Nuhu fell backward into the goal, seemingly carrying the ball across the line for a Greenville score. The refs let the match play on, though, and Omaha countered quickly up the field for a match-sealing third goal with only a few minutes to play. The Triumph were unable to organize an attack following the third goal, with the final whistle putting Greenville's title defense to rest and anointing Omaha as the new champions.
Greenville settled for their second runner-up appearance in three seasons, ending a campaign that saw the Triumph overcome a midseason swoon and race to the League One Final behind a ten match unbeaten streak. The Upstate side will head into the offseason with roster decisions looming by December 1st, with the 2022 preseason slated to begin in February.