Lynchburg FC prevailed over FC Maritsa in a back and forth affair that ultimately ended 1-0 thanks to a strong finish from Tudor Barna in the 47th minute.
With the win, the Virginia-based club punched their ticket to the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time in the club’s first attempt at the qualifying tournament.
The opening half saw chances for both sides however the team from St. Louis looked more likely to score. LFC’s goalkeeper Alonso Guitierrez was called into action in the 24th minute, making a fingertip save off a rocket from FCM’s Alejandro Mentasti, shooting from the edge of the 18-yard box. Vadim Cojocov put the ball in the back of Lynchburg’s net twice, but both were called back for offside.
Momentum switched after the break as LFC almost immediately took the lead. Matthew Zaczyk found the ball at his feet outside the box and slipped a pass forward to Tudor Barna who made no mistake and fired the ball past Ethan Cowell into the roof of his net.
Following a short LFC corner, Cowell’s number was called again in the 57th minute as Munoz lashed a shot at his near post from about 20 yards, but the Maritsa goalie extended to make the save. FCM had a chance to equalize in the 61st minute when Cojocov attempted to bend his shot towards Guiterrez’s far post from a tight angle. However, the shot went wide. Lynchburg were able to withstand the early pressure and ultimately controlled the game, earning their win.
For FC Maritsa, who made the more than 700-mile trip from St. Louis to Lynchburg, Va., it was heartbreak for the second straight time. The last time the club entered the Open Cup qualifying tournament was in 2019 where they also fell short in a “Win & You’re In” match, losing to NTX Rayados (Dallas, TX).
Lynchburg’s path to the 2022 US Open Cup included a free pass after Aegean Hawks FC forfeited in the opening round, followed by a 3-0 road win over Rockville SC (Md.) in Round 3. The club will begin their inaugural US Open Cup journey next spring but they will not find out their first round opponent until after the new year.