West Chester United scored first and survived a late tying goal by Fredericksburg FC, eventually earning advancement with a 8-7 edge in a penalty kick shootout in the First Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday evening.
The match was played at the University of Mary Washington’s Battleground Athletic Complex and marked the first-ever Open Cup win for the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) side from West Chester, Pa. It was the second loss in two tries for the Fredericksburg FC National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) franchise, who dropped their opening match of the 2014 tournament to the Richmond Kickers (USL).
The guests from the Philadelphia area came out of the gates fast and controlled the play for the first 10-15 minutes before Fredericksburg settled into the match and play began to even out.
Despite its early presence in the FFC attacking third, it was the hosts that would get the first quality scoring chance of the evening, but WCU goalie Charles Sales dove to his right to deny a Juan Monge’s free kick in the 24th minute.
West Chester immediately came back the other way, but their counter attack came up empty when Fredericksburg goalie Carlos Canas slid out to collect a through ball before WCU’s Charles Wilson could get onto the end of it.
The teams pretty much played to a stalemate for the next 15 minutes with Fredericksburg maintaining most of the possession and West Chester looking for counterattacks.
FFC would get another quality chance in the 40th minute. After stringing together some nice passes, Ivan Sakou ripped a shot from about 20 yards out, but Sales dove to his left to make the save.
WCU quickly went on the counter after the play and ended up with the ball deep in the left corner of Fredericksburg’s defensive third. Justin McCall then sent a cross in front that found the head of Matthew Poole, but his header from 10 yards out floated over the crossbar.
Play was opening up a bit as the half wound down and FFC nearly took advantage of it. Sakou lofted a diagonal ball over the WCU defense to the right side to a streaking Ryan Zinkhan, but Sales went low to his right to save Zinkhan’s ensuing shot to keep the game scoreless going into halftime.
The second half was more of the same as the first from both teams, FFC enjoying much of the possession and WCU staying organized defensively and trying to hit counter attacks when they presented themselves.
One of those eventually led to the go-ahead goal when Joseph Sales took a pass on the left side deep in the Fredericksburg end and skipped a well-placed shot past a diving Canas, off the right post and in to put West Chester ahead 1-0 in the 59th minute.
With the lead, WCU emphasized its organized defense even more and almost saw out a 1-0 victory, until the closing minutes.
With FFC pushing hard for a tying goal in front of an exuberant home crowd, Zinkhan took a ball at the top of the West Chester goal area, took a few touches to his left and fired a shot toward goal that caromed off a WCU defender’s arms just inside the box resulting in a penalty kick.
Zinkhan calming stepped up to the spot and buried a shot past Sales in the 87th minute to tie the game 1-1 before racing to the corner of the field to celebrate with the FFC youth players he coaches when not captaining the NPSL side.
The clearly drained teams played out the ensuing 30 minutes of extra time with neither really getting any clear chances to take the lead meaning the game would move on to a penalty kick shootout to determine who advanced to next Wednesday’s second round.
The first seven shooters for each team coolly converted their spot kicks, but the eighth round would begin a dramatic shootout finale.
First, FFC’s Canas dove to his right to deny West Chester’s David King, giving the home side a chance to win with a its next kick.
Fredericksburg’s Cedric Ekoue then sent his ensuing kick to the left, but WCU’s Sales ranged to his right to make the save and force another round of kicks.
West Chester’s Thomas Ryan then strolled up and put the first shot of the ninth round away, but Fredericksburg’s Sakou could not follow with the same, sending his kick over the crossbar and the WCU players into a frenzy of celebration in the penalty area.
West Chester now advances to face the United Soccer League’s Harrisburg City Islanders in next Wednesday’s Second Round. West Chester will host the clash between Pennsylvania opponents, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
LINE-UPS (not by position, just starters and subs):
WCU—Charles Sales, Mark Fetrow, James Graf (Peter Janelli 73’), David King, Jordan LeBlanc, Justin McCall (Julien Aoyama 61’), James Miller, Matthew Poole, Thomas Ryan, Joseph Sales, Charles Wilson (Jeremy Payne 69’). Subs not used: Anthony Noel, William Brown, Patrick Tobey, Samuel Yarosh.
FFC—Carlos Canas, Juan Monge, Assane Keita (Francesco Amorosino n/a), Matthew Carragher (Simond Kargbo n/a), Cedric Ekoue, Michael Bennett (Patrick Sedjro 66’), Romena Bowie, Nick Rich, Uriah Bentick, Ryan Zinkham, Ivan Sakou. Subs note used: