Oyster Bay United FC clinched its spot in the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after defeating Westchester United FC, 4-1, on Sunday, Nov. 21. By the time the Long Island club turns one calendar year old it will have made its US Open Cup debut.
Team owner and president Mark Colacioppo knows first-hand all the work his team has put forth. While the team’s winning record in United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) play has been incredible to see, he admits the tournament held a special place in his ambitions.
“The opportunity to play for a berth in the main draw of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup was a huge reason for me personally getting involved with the club,” Colacioppo said. “Winning matches against three strong teams made earning our spot even more rewarding. The players understand the history and prestige of this tournament and look forward to going as far as we can and putting Oyster Bay United FC on the map of US soccer.”
Like the win over the Pancyprian Freedoms, Oyster Bay battled chilly, Northeast autumn weather on the road in order to secure the win. The game at Brewster High School near the Connecticut border dipped close to 35 degrees as the sun set. Luckily for Oyster Bay, the team got off to a quick start.
A couple of long passes in the 29th minute moved the Westchester lines enough to give Luis Altuve space on the right side. Another long cross from the opposite side gave him the chance to simply lift one leg and redirect the ball into the net. Despite being a 73-mile trip, the traveling support shook the bleachers. Immediately Colacioppo felt his side had more confidence following this moment.
In the interim, OBFC’s goalkeeper JC Perez made multiple saves to keep the game in his team’s favor. Early shots that would have given Westchester the lead or tied the match back at one goal a piece were blocked out by the Keiser University alumni. This meant when Sebastian Ruiz got a chance to finish off a through pass up the middle in the 39th minute, it put the visitors up 2-0 heading into halftime.
However, the home team was not about the let that happen unopposed. United had already come back from a 2-0 deficit in its first qualifying match against NJ Alliance. In that game, the team scored a late first half goal to completely switch the game’s momentum. They followed the same script and a free kick into Oyster Bay’s box was headed away in the first minute of stoppage time t make it 2-1.
The player that scored that fateful goal was Christopher Ribet, a former professional with the Los Angeles Force of the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA). He’s also someone Colacioppo and the team know well from UPSL play.
“We knew Westchester was a tough club from when we played them during our UPSL season,” Colacioppo said. “Ribet was one of the league’s top scorers and a handful to defend but we were able to deny him service for the most part.”
For OBUFC’s head coach Josue Esqueche he knew his team was going to have to change up their play despite the success they’d had in the middle of the first half.
“We knew that the field was small and was a very defensive team,” Esqueche explained. “We had to make some adjustments since the 2-1 score was not a comfortable result for us. In the second half we knew how to maintain possession of the ball, continue with our advanced lines being responsible, and we were able to demonstrate total superiority.”
Early in the second half, pressure by captain Dan Giorgi and Sebastian Ruiz on the left side created the opportunity for a third goal. A feed from Ruiz was calmly finished by Davidson Marseille into the top left corner and passed the jumping keeper only a minute in. The fan closest to the camera letting off a Howard Dean-esc “Yeah” counteracted the feeling the home side began to show.
As the final 45 minutes continued on, Oyster Bay’s time of possession greatly increased. The visitors bossed the midfield leaving Westchester to play keep-up. A few offensive breaks were interspaced between forwards playing back hoping to avoid a fourth goal. That finally came through in the 85th minute when Ruiz was fouled in the penalty area. Mathews Carriel slotted in the penalty kick to seal the result firmly in favor of the visitors.
“Happy for the result and for the team’s performance,” coach Esqueche said. “We were visitors with a goal and it was achieved, this is the best thanks we can give to the fans and the team management for all the support provided. Thank you and now the team prepares to face the new challenges in the best way.”
The win was the boost the team needed as well. The Thursday prior to the match, Oyster Bay fell to the New Jersey Alliance in the UPSL American Premier Division Playoffs Final, 1-0. With the team’s inaugural season at an end, the group now has more time to fully prepare for both the Spring season and the 2022 US Open Cup tournament.