Tartan Devils Oak Avalon (TDOA) overpowered Aromas Cafe FC 3-1, on the strength of two Travis MacKenzie goals to win its first-ever US Open Cup qualifying contest. With the win, the Devils are one step closer to becoming the first open division amateur club from Western Pennsylvania to qualify since 1992.
The victory was a reversal of last year’s result with Aromas Cafe winning 3-1 in front of their home fans in Charlottesville, Va. This time, it was the Devils with the home field advantage at Rooney Field at Dusquesne University, and they took advantage on Sunday afternoon.
“It was a great win for our club and for soccer in the Pittsburgh area,” said Tartan Devils player/coach Andy Karas. “This was a good team we beat today. They beat us last year, and had a nice run in Open Cup, so it was great to come back and beat them this year.”
After both teams exchanged chances and runs into the box in the early going, it was a former Duquesne Dukes and Pittsburgh Riverhounds standout, MacKenzie, who scored the game’s first tally in the 25th minute.
MacKenzie played a pass to Erin McCormick, who quickly turned and chipped a ball in the air back toward the box. MacKenzie beat his mark to get to the ball and buried a low shot past Aromas Cafe FC keeper Michael-Martin Hohoff for the 1-0 lead.
Aromas Cafe had two excellent chances in the 34th and 40th minutes, but each time, TDOA keeper Vargas made quick reaction saves on Luke Oosdyk and Jacob Van Yahres shots to preserve the lead.
“In the first half, it could have gone either way,” said Karas. “As the game went on, we started to play our game, and things opened up.”
Sure enough, after halftime, as TDOA strengthened its defensive shape, they started to find a lot of open space on counter attacking opportunities.
In the 60th minute, Gregory Annan delivered a high ball from the left side to MacKenzie beyond the far past. MacKenzie’s shot was stopped by Hohoff, but Tyler Solis put the rebound through to give the Devils a two-goal edge.
Annan initiated the next goal in the 75th minute by making a nice play to make a solid tackle and steal the ball away. He then found Ryan Slaby streaking along the left side with plenty of space. Slaby drew two Aromas Cafe defenders and played a through ball to an unmarked MacKenzie on the right side, who delivered the final blow for his second goal of the game.
Aromas Cafe added a late goal on a Neil Harrison redirected header from a corner kick in the 90th minute to prevent the TDOA shutout.
The Tartan Devils Oak Avalon will find out its next opponent in the next qualifying round after this weekend’s action. The next round dates and locations are yet to be finalized but are tentatively scheduled for Nov. 19-20.