West Chester United’s Julien Aoyama celebrates a goal. Photo: Kari Haffelfinger
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Since 2011, West Chester United has come close every season to qualifying for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, but the four-time Eastern Pennsylvania Open Cup champion has not been able to make the tournament. West Chester is yet again close to its goal, one win away from a berth in the tournament after a 3-0 victory over Salone FC.
Amherst College graduate and 2012 NCAA Division III 1st team All-American Julien Aoyama had two goals and an assist, and Widener University men’s soccer assistant coach Matt Poole contributed a goal in the comfortable victory.
West Chester’s goals came after a disjointed start; it took about 20 minutes for the home side to start controlling the game.
“We went from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1,” West Chester head coach Blaise Santangelo said. “We started connecting a little more and started playing well.”
That change in formation almost immediately led to a goal. In the 27th minute, Christian Benner of West Chester University got past the defense down the right side of the field. He put a cross into the Salone box that Aoyama easily tapped home.
Salone FC, of the Philadelphia Premier Soccer League, gave up another goal 12 minutes later, when Poole beat the offside trap and scored past the onrushing Salone keeper.
Prior to halftime, the away side made two substitutions, changing its tactics to push as many men forward as possible. The first half ended without any more scoring, but United was able to take advantage of these tactics early in the second half.
Less than 10 minutes into the second stanza, Benner got a second assist after a nifty interchange with Eric Giovagnoli, a senior at Eastern University. After a quick give-and-go with Giovagnoli, Benner found Aoyama in the center of the box. Aoyama had no trouble bagging his second goal of the game.
Up 3-0, West Chester was content to let Salone push forward. United turned this pressure into quick counter attacks, but were left wanting more on the offensive side of the field. Whether it was missed final passes, poor shots, or great saves from the Salone goalie, West Chester just could not find another goal.
Santangelo said, “We messed around with the ball a little bit too much. We left some goals on the field.”
Despite leaving goals on the field, West Chester cruised to a 3-0 victory and a spot in the final round of 2016 Open Cup qualifying tournament. That round is scheduled for April of 2016, with matchups to be announced at some point after the new year.