In front of their rain-soaked home fans at Heartland Value Fund Stadium in Glendale, Wis., Bavarian United won the 2022 USASA Amateur Cup title on Sunday. They defeated Northern Virginia FC (Eastern Premier Soccer League), 1-0, on a 17th minute goal by Patrick Coleman. The win gives the Bavarians six Amateur Cup titles, which is tied with Ponta Delgada for second-most in history.
By lifting the Fritz Marth Amateur Cup trophy, Bavarian United qualifies for the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Bavarian United, previously known as Bavarian SC before a recent merger with local side Inter Northshore FC, has competed in the US Open Cup numerous times since it was founded in 1929. This includes a runner-up finish in 1994 and a run to the Semifinals in 1993. This will be the club’s ninth time competing in the tournament in the Modern Era (1995-present). The last time the team competed in the tournament in 2019 was as the defending national amateur champions, the first team to earn qualification via that method.
While they had the advantage of playing at home, the Bavarians, led by head coach Tom Zaiss, had a difficult task to lift the trophy. They had to beat Region 4 champions Los Angeles Strikers, 2-0, in the Semifinals on Saturday night, and then turn around and play the championship game on Sunday afternoon. Northern Virginia FC, coached by Kareem Sheta tied Region 3 champ ASC New Stars (TX), 2-2, after 120 minutes and needed a 3-1 penalty kick shootout win to advance to the Sunday’s final.
The Amateur Cup Final between the Region 1 champions NoVa and Region 2 champions Milwaukee Bavarians kicked off at 2 p.m. local time with a packed Bavarian fan base in attendance. The match was a battle of recent champions from sister leagues. NoVa won the 2022 EPSL championship earlier this summer while Bavarian won the Midwest Premier League’s West Conference. Both leagues are connected as amateur affiliates of the professionally sanctioned third division National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).
As the home team came out in a 4-3-3 with a minor adjustment in personnel from the semifinal, with Braden Andryk for Dogara Zamani in that starting 11.
The forecast predicted rain throughout the afternoon, with spurts of rain that brought a chilly and slick surface compared to the scorching heat on Saturday. Bavarians’ theme of the weekend was a tactically sound defensive unit. Augie Rey remained calm and provided the back line with the confidence needed to defend strongly. He ended the weekend with two shutouts.
“Not getting scored on in two games is a great feeling. As a goalkeeper, this is what we dream of,” said Rey, who played his college ball at the University of Milwaukee. “I wouldn’t be as successful without my back line holding it down defensively, they make it easy for me to do my job.”
Jake Streicher, Brett Dietz, and Alex Mirsberger provided the security needed to keep the clean sheets.
The first 15 minutes were back and forth. The Bavarians’ defensive line took advantage of countering opportunities while NoVa FC dominated possession, swinging the ball from side to side.
The lone goal of the game was scored by Patrick Coleman, assisted by Logan Andryk, in the 17th minute. Coleman was on the end of many excellent Bavarian chances in the final third, and was able to put away the game’s lone goal. NoVa’s Illias Laghjibi, Eric Cavillo, and Johnathan Arguta all had shots on goal in the first half but none were trouble for Rey in net.
After opening the goal, NoVa continued to stay aggressive. Jean Philippe, Eric Cavillo, and Illias Laghjibi attempted to create all the opportunities they could. However the stiff defensive presence of the Bavarians stayed strong throughout the first half. Cavillo created multiple long-distance opportunities for NoVa FC. In the 13th minute, he hit the post with the ball going wide.
Virginia came out in the same 4-3-3 but with seven different starters than the semifinal. Notable missing names include CM Brandon Williamson, forward KJ Nadeau, and forward Vagner Marques, who all scored or assisted in Saturday’s Semifinal.
“It backfired a little bit because the guys that came off the bench didn’t bring too much of a spark, but it’s always tough to play a back to back,” said NoVa FC head coach Kareem Sheta. “We made one mistake and they capitalized on it. I think the ball was pretty much on their end the rest of the game.”
Williamson, Maquis, Desouza, Ahmed, Omar, Ismael, Sheta, Nadeau all checked in for the second half. With the resiliency NoVa has shown throughout the season it seemed as if the game could flip but the Bavarians stiffened up their defensive presence. Jean Philippe’s height, stature, and presence was felt throughout the match. In the 49th minute, he recorded another shot on target. Directly after Nick Wilson’s header over Emmanuel Vargas was cleared De Orio in a save to keep the NoVa side alive.
Coach Zaiss kept the lineup fresh with subs of Buran Huseini, Ivan Cuellar, and Dogara Zomani all entered in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Johnny De Souza had a breakaway opportunity with keeper Augie Rey where the shot was pushed into the side netting.
In the 50th minute, the Bavarians’ greatest opportunity of the second half was Nick Wilson’s header over keeper Emmanuel Vargas which was cleared right before going over the goal line by Franki De Orio.
Ten minutes later, in the 75th minute, NoVa FC had it’s best chance come from Nadeau. Williamson, on a break, drew the defenders in to make it a 3-v-2. He past it off to his right to a waiting Nadeau whose shot hit off the the post. Williamson tried to knock in the rebound but sent the ball over the crossbar.
Northern Virginia continued to press the back line of Bavarians toward the end of the match but their best chances to equalize were behind them. Andryk received a yellow card in the 83th minute after an accumulation of fouls. The last chance for NoVa to tie the game came in the 84th minute after the subsequent free kick from right outside the box was placed into the wall. Bavarians stood their ground and weathered the storm, figuratively and weather wise, after several long balls through the air came threatening into the box were cleared.
The win marks the ninth star above the team’s logo, representing their nine national championships. In addition to the six Amateur Cup titles (1976, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2018, 2022), they have two USASA Open Cup titles (2003 & 2009, known as the Werner Fricker Cup), and a 2018 UPSL title.
There were multiple players involved in Sunday’s Final that were part of the 2018 team that last lifted a trophy: Jake Streicher, Brett Dietz, Logan and Braden Andryk, Nick Wilson, Augie Rey, and Dogara Zamani.
“Today was a battle, you know you need some luck. They had a bit of a longer day yesterday and have been on a run winning three or four titles,” said Zaiss. “It’s always great to win regardless of playing at home, playing in front of your home fans it always means a little more, it would be great to celebrate with friends and family at home.”