By Charles Cuttone
The Madison 56ers are making their second trip to the NPSL finals in the last three years, and fourth overall, but have never advanced beyond the semifinals. They earned their trip to San Diego after narrowly edging out in-state rival Milwaukee Bavarians for the Midwest Central Conference regular season crown, then advancing by beating AFC Cleveland 2-1.
The 56ers will kick off the final four weekend in Friday’s first game, against a familiar opponent, Lehigh Valley, Pa.-based FC Sonic, who defeated them in the consolation game in 2010. Friday’s matchup is at Del Norte High in San Diego at 3 p.m. PT.
Both goals in the 56ers playoff win over AFC Cleveland were scored by Carlos McCrary. He gave the 56ers the lead at the half-hour mark, off a cross from Derek Pitts, then doubled it in the 48th minute on an assist from Chris Brown.
The hosts took one back in the 67th minute, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
The two goals in the playoff game gave McCrary 17 for the season in all competitions for the Madison club.
56ers Coach Jim Launder is fond of playing an attacking possession game, with McCrary as one of the key cogs in the offense, which also features forward Andy Sontaga, and tends to run through midfielder Jack Keeling. The defense is backstopped by goalkeeper Ryan Onwukwe and backs Sean Ronnekleiv-Kelly and Derek Pitts.