In a replay of their game from last week that was stopped due to severe weather in the 79th minute, Northern Virginia FC (NoVa FC) used a pair of second half goals to push past Lynchburg FC, 3-1 in the First Round of the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Like last week, this match was played at Lynchburg City Stadium in Lynchburg, Va.
With the win, Northern Virginia, a club that was launched in 1998, tasted victory in the tournament for the first time. It was just the third US Open Cup in NoVa FC’s history, and the club’s first appearance since 2000.
With the nearest bolt of lightning somewhere near the Mississippi River, the teams started off the first half of the replay trading goals, similar to their original game. After 13 minutes, NoVA FC opened the scoring when Taofik Lucas-Walker sent a pass into the penalty area from the right wing. The ball bounded off the foot of Jean-Philipe Ayolmbong, and Luke Campbell sent it past Lynchburg goalkeeper Alonso Gutierrez for the 1-0 lead.
“It was great to get the win and it wasn’t easy by any means,” said Northern Virginia FC head coach Kareem Sheta. “Lynchburg knows their strengths and plays to them well. I think when we brought changes on, the level never really dropped and I think fitness started to kick in a bit.”
Just as they did in the first game, Lynchburg wasted no time equalizing. Just 12 minutes later, Tudor Barna sent a cross into the penalty area, where Mitchell Reed headed the ball home just in front of goal. Reed was Lynchburg’s goal scorer in the previous match a week ago.
“I thought we did well trying to control the variables that we could and let everything else path it’s on way,” said Sheta. “I think our biggest adjustments were just in the wide areas, just getting the ball in and out of our feet a bit faster was key since the field was much narrower then our home field.”
NoVa wasted no time taking the lead for good after the break. Jean-Philip Ayolmbong, who was credited with an assist on the opening goal, stole an errant Lynchburg pass near midfield. He then dribble around two Lynchburg defenders before beating Gutierrez with a shot in the penalty area.
The visitors put the game away in the 83rd minute when substitute Jhonny De Souza was brought down just inside the penalty area. De Souza, who has played multiple seasons for the club’s USL League Two team, converted the spot kick himself and NoVa was home free at 3-1.
Tempers seemed to boil over a bit in stoppage time when Lynchburg’s Bhayle Kearns was issued a straight red card for upending and slamming De Souza to the turf. De Souza was also ordered to leave the game for his part in the scuffle.
NoVa FC moves on to meet another Virginia rival in the second round, as they host the Richmond Kickers of USL League One on April 6. The game will be played at the Virginia Revolution Sportsplex in Leesburg, Va.
“We’re more than happy to host Richmond and we have a good relationship with Rob Ukrop and I’ve been chatting off and on with Darren about players over the past few years,” said Sheta. “I think this is what the Open Cup is about. Small amateur teams with guys that work 9-to-5 and train twice week being able to share the field and spot for game with a pro team like Richmond that has a great history, especially in the Open Cup. We wish them safe travels, and we’re looking forward to giving the local community a good experience at our home at the Revolution Sportsplex.
Match Broadcast via US Soccer’s YouTube channel