Jake Van Yahres delivered the game-winning goal as the Charlottesville, Virginia-based United States Amateur Soccer Association (USASA) side Aromas Café FC took down the National Premier Soccer League’s (NPSL) Richmond Strikers by a final score of 2-1.
The win sends the amateur side into a matchup with a professional team, the Richmond Kickers in Round 2 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Aromas Café FC overcame some pretty tough odds just to qualify for the first round of the tournament. In their first open division qualifying match back in the fall, they broke up a DC-metro area dynasty by defeating the Aegean Hawks, who had represented the nation’s capital in regional qualifying for nine of the previous 10 years. Then in the second round of qualifying they beat a Tartan Devils side that was undefeated in three seasons of Greater Pittsburgh soccer league play. Now they’re headed to the second round of the tournament itself after Douglas Clare’s brace lifted his side to a dramatic victory.
The game got off to a somewhat slow start and was scoreless at the half. Then right out of the gate in the 47th minute, Douglas Clare scored the first of his two goals on the evening. Richmond would go on to equalize through a penalty kick from assistant coach/striker Will Bates. If the name sounds familiar, Will Bates came up through the Strikers’ youth system and went on to star at the University of Virginia before being selected by the Seattle Sounders in the 2013 Supplemental Draft. He earned a roster spot with Seattle, but was let go soon after that and bounced around the lower divisions for a couple seasons before ending up back home in Virginia.
But Aromas would not be denied their fairy tale victory as Van Yahres blasted home the game-winner before the first period of extra time ended and his team held on in the second to advance in the team’s first-ever cup run.
As fate would have it, they’ll come right back to the Virginia capital on Wednesday, May 18 to face another Richmond side: the United Soccer League’s Richmond Kickers.