In a toughly contested match the Battery Park Gunners outlasted local rivals Mass Premier Soccer to take a 2-1 victory and earn a trip to Randalls Island in New York City to take on East New York champion New York Greek American Atlas this Sunday as the Massachusetts state champions in the USASA Region I tournament.
On a day when most of the New England soccer community’s attention was focused on Foxboro for the New England Revolution’s 2012 home opener, another important game slipped quietly under the radar. Amid little fanfare the 2012 Massachusetts US Open Cup state final was played at Dilboy Field in Somerville. There was a lot on the line, as the winner would secure passage through to the USASA Region I tournament and put themselves just two wins away from qualification for the 2012 US Open Cup.
The game had an energetic and crisp feel from the outset with Battery Park Gunners dictating the pace early on. Battery Park opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Bobby Linaberry charged through the MPS defense and found the end of a perfectly timed Dan Schultz through ball. He then tucked it into the side netting to give Battery Park the early lead.
MPS fought back, showing plenty of spirit and unluckily had a goal bound ball cleared off the line by Battery Park back Jason Pan in the 34th.
Just minutes later Battery Park Gunners launched a counter attack, again orchestrated by a Dan Schultz pass. Schultz targeted Linaberry on the wing, and Linaberry delivered a sharp cross to Jesse Milling, who scored to put the Gunners up 2-0 at the half.
MPS, sensing the desperation of the moment, came out on fire after the half. MPS moved to an aggressive 3-4-3 formation and dictated the pace in the early minutes of the second session. As a result of this strategy, MPS was vulnerable in defense and narrowly escaped Battery Park securing a victory with a third goal multiple times. As the game wore on, MPS’s aggressive stance began to pay off with longer stretches of possession and finally in the 67th minute, MPS got on the board when Jeff Newman ably handled a botched Battery Park clearance and got MPS right back in the game.
MPS continued to bring the game to Battery Park in the waning moments and nearly got the equalizer on two separate occasions, once from a well delivered header on a corner and once on a set piece from 25 yards out.
Battery Park held it together though, and in the end came out victorious, setting up a game this weekend with East NY Champ, New York Greek American Atlas. The First Round game will be played at Randalls Island Sports Complex, Field #75 at 2:00 PM Sunday April, 1st. The winner of this game will host New Jersey champ Jersey Shore Boca on April 22nd with a coveted slot in the 2012 US Open Cup on the line.
Massachusetts USASA Open Cup Final
Battery Park Gunners 2:1 Mass Premier Soccer
Dilboy Field – Somerville, MA 2:00 PM 3/24/12
BPG: Bobby Linaberry (Dan Schultz) 21’
BPG: Jesse Milling (Bobby Linaberry) 38’
MPS: Jeff Newman 67’
Battery Park, Kevin Griffith, Dissent
Battery Park, Ben Shuleva, Unsporting behavior (reckless tackle)
Referee: Randall Kelley
AR1: Ken Koopmans
AR2: Kara Honthumb
4th: Andrew Wilson
Past Massachusetts Open Cup champions
2011: Mass Premier Soccer
2010: Emigrantes Das Ilhas
2009: Emigrantes Das Ilhas*
2008: Boston Olympiakos*
2007: Lowell Revolution
2006: Green Briar Rebels
2005: Green Briar Rebels
2004: Boston Olympiakos
2003: Green Briar Rebels
2002: Hellas United
*Qualified for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup