The Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks, champions from Metro DC/Virginia, began their quest to qualify for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for a third time in six years with an opening round victory Sunday in the USASA Region I tournament, downing West Chester United Predators of Eastern Pennsylvania, 3-1.
It was a big victory for the Hawks, who will now host Maryland Bays on April in a “Win & You’re In” semifinal contest April 22. The club, which previously reached the Open Cup in 2007 and 2009, is one of three clubs from DC/VA that has qualified for the tournament a total of four times during the Modern Pro Era (1995-present). The others were Spartans SC (1995, Fairfax) and Mo’s Sport Shop (1996, McLean).
Maryland Bays will be looking to reverse their recent regional fortunes. They also won the Maryland Open Cup titles last year but were unable to qualify for the Open Cup. The state hasn’t had a representative in the tournament since 2006 (Allied SC).
Sunday’s match went into the second half still deadlocked at zeros until the 58th minute. A throw-in made its way to Gui Fonseca, who delivered a through ball for David Rosenbaum, who drove toward the keeper and blasted a shot to his right.
“Scoring first was important in this game,” said Hawks manager Jon Knight. “They would have been difficult to break down had they gone ahead, so Rosenbaum’s strike was critical.”
Back-to-back goals in three minutes gave the Hawks firm control with 15 minutes remaining.
Sam Scales, coming up the right wing, delivered the ball inside to Fonseca, who laid it off to Watson Vaughan-Prather. Noticing the keeper was off his line, Vaughan-Prather struck a dipping shot into the upper right corner to double the advantage in the 73rd.
Two minutes later an own goal pushed West Chester’s deficit to three. Crashing in on goal, Erwin Diaz sent a ball across the goal to an onrushing teammate. A Predators defender got to the ball first, however, his slide tackle attempt to intercept the pass sent the ball into the net instead.
In the 79th minute West Chester would spoil the shutout when Dom Popolizio finished off a play that began with a free kick at midfield with a looping shot over the keeper.
“I don’t think we played that well; and there is a lot of room for improvement before we face the Bays, who took two of three from us last year,” concluded Knight. “We have to be better in transition on both sides of the ball. Being one step away from the Open Cup will be taken very seriously and we’ll make sure we are ready.”
2012 USASA Region I Open Cup – First Round
Maryland Soccerplex (Field #8) – Boyds, Md. – 2 p.m.
West Chester United Predators 1:3 Aegean Hawks
AH: David Rosenbaum (Gui Fonseca) – 58th minute
AH: Watson Vaughan-Prather (Gui Fonseca) – 73rd minute
AH: Own goal – 75th minute
WU: Dom Popolizio – 79th minute
Aegean Hawks: Chris Fenner; Devlin Barnes, Mateus Dos Anjos, Pat Selwood, James Kpainay (Alan Golden 40); Mike Goldman, Watson Vaughan-Prather, Sam Scales, Erwin Diaz; Scott Larrabee (Dave Rosenbaum 55), Gia Fonseca (Jordan Evans 75)
West Chester: Not Available