2016 US Open Cup qualifying: Aegean Hawks’ two clutch goals stun Maryland Bays

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  • October 21, 2015

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Almost five years since their first Cup encounter in a US Amateur Cup qualifier that saw Georgetown winger Seth C’deBaca lace a curling long-range laser at the end of regulation to seal victory for the Hawks, the Maryland Bays of the Maryland Major Soccer League and Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks of the Washington Premier League renewed their rivalry on Sunday when both teams clashed for the ninth time in a single elimination Cup tie.

Sunday’s match was for the new-look US Soccer-managed first round of Lamar Hunt US Open Cup open division qualifying tournament. The Bays, based out of Baltimore, were 5-3-0 in all-time matchups against the DC-based Hawks leading into the game with the Hawks winning the last meeting 1-0 in last year’s Maryland Open Cup championship match. Awaiting the winner of the match was an away date in Round 2 with Aromas Cafe FC of Charlottesville, Va., who overcame the Tartan Devils FC of Pittsburgh, PA 3-1 in their matchup a day earlier.

On an uncharacteristically crisp autumn day awaited both sides at the Hawks home pitch at the Maryland Soccerplex, with temperatures in the upper 40s and a brisk wind blowing West-East. The Hawks started the match the more composed of the two sides with veteran midfielder Watson Vaughan-Prather and central midfield cohort Steven Hauschild pulling strings and organizing the Hawks attack.

Ten minutes in, the Hawks got their first solid chance in the match when winger Chris Hennings took on a few Bays defenders toward the endline and cut back nicely to fire a hard left-footed shot that was parried away by Bays goalkeeper Dan McCleary.

Just five minutes later, a free kick for the Hawks was lofted to the far post by William Fierro, where Vaughan-Prather headed it back across the goal mouth and onto the path of streaking forward Dan Fogarty for what looked like a tap in, but the ball sailed over his knee and out to safety.

The close call seemed to wake up the Bays, who began to assert themselves and push the match into the Hawks’ defensive half with solid possession-oriented soccer and switching the field of play. The Bays’ center midfield pairing of former Maryland Terp Kauro Forbess and former Loyola Greyhound Danny Ankrah orchestrated the Bays attack well and kept the Hawks on their heels, patiently searching for holes in the Hawks defense and spreading the ball to the wings and into forward Kingsley Onwuku’s feet.

The Hawks struggled to get a rhythm and relied on the occasional break to wingers Chris Hennings and Scott Larrabee to keep the Bays defense honest. While the possession was tilted in favor of the Bays, the Hawks defense stood tall as center back pairing Patrick Selwood and Joshua Damm and outside backs Devlin Barnes and James Kpainay all played their part with gritty goal saving one-on-one efforts during many Bays forays into the Hawks penalty area. Both teams stood at a deadlock at halftime.

Coming out of the break, the Hawks again looked livelier as Larrabee and Hennings threatened with Vaughan-Prather again serving as the link player, but the Bays defenders were always up to the task. Just as it looked like the Hawks would mirror their bright start to the first half, the Bays’ Glenn Leitch was taken down in the box by Hawks defender Devlin Barnes after a nifty piece of skill to maintain possession on a double team, and the referee awarded a PK at the 55 minute mark. Kingsley Onwuka stepped up to bury the penalty in the lower left corner past Hawks netminder Robbie Batchelder to lift the Bays to a 1-0 advantage.

Much of the ensuing play until the 80th minute echoed the second part of the first half, with the Bays dominating possession and the Hawks occasionally threatening with their wing play. As the match wore on, the game got a little chippy and the referee was not shy to dole out punishment. The Hawks were shown four yellow cards throughout the match, three after the Bays goal, while Maryland received two yellows in the second stanza.

Neither team had much teeth in the offensive third as both were missing important regulars in their front line. The Bays constantly probed with Danny Ankrah as the catalyst in the middle and some solid wing play on the right by Danny Baxter, but the Hawks defense created a wall and did well to keep the Bays from adding to the scoreline. On the other side of the pitch, Larrabee and Hennings were always dangerous on the break but could not unlock the combination to find Mccleary’s net.

From the 80th minute on, the Hawks desperation began to yield some opportunities to bring the match level. Several balls were whipped into the Bays penalty area and to the far post that looked to break the deadlock but the score remained in the Bays favor as stoppage time began. Seconds before the referee blew his whistle, the Hawks took a corner kick that was cleared by the Bays but found the feet of Hawks outside back Devlin Barnes for the second service. Center back and team captain Pat Selwood stepped up in traffic to head the ball in the net, granting the Hawks the dramatic equalizer and lifeline moments before the end of regulation.

In the first overtime period, the Bays pressed hard with the better chances and almost added to their tally off a blistering half-volley by Mike Gill that sailed just inches over the crossbar.

With five minutes left in the second overtime period, the Hawks’ Vaughan-Prather was fed a ball in the Bays penalty area. As several Bays defenders swarmed him for the takeaway, he snuck a pass to the endline for longtime teammate Michael Goldman, who took a touch and floated a left footed cross back to the six-yard box. The ball was perfectly weighted to avoid the first line of Hawks and Bays and fell to the foot of onrushing winger, Scott Larabee. Just as his college teammate did in the first meeting between these two storied USASA clubs, the Georgetown alum stunned the Bays with a well-placed volley to the left corner that left McCleary flat footed. Now with the lead, the Hawks bunkered in for the remaining five minutes of the match and the Bays could not break through, inching the Hawks closer to level in the all-time series and one step closer to the club’s first US Open Cup berth since 2012.

MORE: Ten teams advance to Round 2 in opening weekend of 2016 US Open Cup qualifying

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