The 2013 edition of the New Jersey Open Cup tournament got underway on Sunday in Bridgewater as three-time state Open Cup winners Go Soccer FC took on league rivals SC Polonia Wallington. Go Soccer may have come in with the experience, but it was first-time entry Polonia who came away victorious after a penalty kick by Zbigniew Puzio in the 99th minute of extra time to give PW a 2-1 win and a ticket to the New Jersey Final on March 24.
In the state title game, Polonia Wallington will take on the winner of Icon FC and last year’s Open Cup entry Jersey Shore Boca. The state champion will advance to the USASA Region I Finals where they will travel west of the city of Philadelphia to face Eastern Pennsylvania champion West Chester United in the quarterfinals.
From the get go, play was tough, with both teams fighting for positioning in the midfield. Early on, pressure was placed on Go Soccer FC with Ben Barton of Polonia Wallington putting a shot just above the Go Soccer FC goal for the game’s first shot. GSFC was able to answer back, but a shot put on frame trickled just wide of the Polonia net and out of harms way. After that attempt, the game remained in the Polonia Wallington defensive third with Go Soccer FC pressing hard for the game’s first goal. Polonia was able to withstand the early pressure.
The roughness of the play showed as Tomasz Wachowicz brought down a GSFC player in the midfield, earning the game’s first yellow in the 30th minute, causing both coaches to get into heated discussions with the ref.
The resulting free kick went wide of the Polonia goal once more. The best chance for either side came in the 33rd minute when a hard foul in the Go Soccer FC six yard box was committed brought about a penalty kick. Zbigniew Puzio stepped up to take the PK, only to have his shot go just wide of the GSFC net.
The missed penalty would come back to haunt Polonia Wallington, after some scrappy play in the midfield and some pressure in the Polonia box, GSFC were awarded back-to-back corners in first half stoppage time. The first corner was hit from the top of the box and deflected off a Wallington defender, bringing about the second corner.
The second half began as the first had, with lots of aggressive play in the midfield. Go Soccer FC went on the offensive immediately, putting a shot on target moments after the restart, but it was handled easily by the Polonia keeper. A majority of the possession went Go Soccer FC’s way as they looked to increase upon their 1-0 lead.
Polonia was able to counter the pressure put upon them by GSFC and put a few shots on frame, but nothing threatened GSFC keeper Zach Zamek.
Play continued end to end with Polonia pressing for an equalizer, while Go Soccer FC looked to put the game away in the late stages.
However, with Go Soccer FC unable to find the goal to lock the game, Polonia capitalized, leaving it late. A cross from PW defender Tomasz Wachowicz managed to slip past GSFC keeper Zach Zamek and bank it in off the far post, tying the game at 1-1 in the 87th minute. Neither team were able to find a winning goal in the 2nd half injury time, forcing the game to go into overtime
Polonia Wallington kicked off the first period of overtime, but it was Go Soccer FC who ended up with the first chance on goal in the 93rd minute off a corner kick. The attempt on goal was right at the Polonia keeper for the easy save in the opening moments. The biggest moment in the first overtime period came as Josh Brown from Go Soccer FC handled the ball in puttempt to clear a ball from the goal line in the 99th minute. Brown was issued a yellow for the infraction and a PK was awarded to Polonia Wallington. Puzio from Polonia Wallington stepped up to take the PK and managed to convert it, sending Zach Zamek diving to the left as Puzio slotted it down the middle.
Wallington had a shot to make it 3-1 and put the game away when another shot from Puzio was bound for goal, but it was cleared from the goal line by Josh Brown again, who managed to avoid handling the ball this time around. The first period of extra time ended with Polonia Wallington up 2-1.
Go Soccer FC kicked off the second OT period, trying to find the equalizer, but only found a stingy Polonia defense. A missed foul call lead to a heated exchange of words between Go Soccer FC players and Polonia Wallington’s players. This exchange led to two more yellow cards to Polonia. The cards were issued to Ben Barton and Damian Serafin, both for dissent in the 113th minute. The majority of the second overtime was spent by both teams trying to break down each other’s defenses. The momentum seemed to change, with Wallington the ones applying the offensive pressure, leaving GSFC to defend their hearts out.
Go Soccer FC managed an opportunity near the end of the match and found themselves being awarded a PK for a handball in the box with nothing but injury time left in the match. Dennis Maldonado from Go Soccer FC stepped up to take the penalty kick, with the chance to send the game into penalty kicks. His attempt, however, was high and over the crossbar, all but sealing victory for Polonia Wallington. The game was quickly restarted with a goal kick, but it was soon called after the kick, ending 2-1 in favor of Polonia Wallington.
New Jersey Semifinals (March 10/17)
Polonia Wallington SC 2:1 (aet) Go Soccer FC – March 10
Torpey Complex in Bridgewater, NJ
Jersey Shore Boca vs. Icon FC – March 17
12 p.m. – Berkeley Soccer Complex in Bayville, NJ
New Jersey Final (March 24)