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May 13th, 2007: USASA Amateur Cup - Rnd. of 16
Hawks - 1, AC United (MD) - 2 (2 OT)

The Hawks took on MD finalists AC United in Region 1 Round of 16 Amateur Cup play on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for soccer at Catholic University. The game would serve as the first of two straight matchups between the two sides, as they will square off again on Sunday May 20th in a Region 1 US Open Cup match with a berth in America's oldest and most prestigious soccer competition at stake. In a game where the Hawks missed many clear cut opportunities at net, AC United snatched victory in the 115th minute of overtime on a well orchestrated counter attack goal to give the Hawks their first taste of defeat in over a year of amateur play.

The Hawks opened up the game in impressive fashion, dominating possession and with nice interplay between the midfield and forwards creating several opportunities that were not capitalized upon. In similar manner to last week's match against the Greek-Americans, AC United found the scoreboard first in the 15th minute against the run of play off a corner kick that Hawks keeper Safi Barekzi could not punch out in a crowd. The ensuing AC United header found it's mark despite almost being cleared off the line by outide back Alex Nydal. The goal seemed to spark AC United and the flow of the match started to go their way for the following 15 minutes, including a nice 20 yard ripper that clanked off the post, before the Hawks settled down and took control of the play for the remainder of the half. Their efforts were rewarded in the 35th after a nice sequence of passing found striker Robby Wright fire a shot in the box which ricochetted onto the right boot of striking partner Geoff Thompson to even up the match at 1-1, where it stood until halftime.

In the second stanza, both teams applied their varying styles - the Hawks playing more of a possesion passing game while AC United applying a trademark counter-attacking and direct style. The entire game was well contested physically by both teams with several bone crunching tackles that set the tone for a competitive clash of two proud clubs that did not want to be denied. As the second half wore on, the Hawks opportunities became more numerous, with several chances in the box missing the necessary quality finish despite having all the dressings. The Hawks looked like they would take the lead in the 75th when Hawks striker Robby Wright beat the offsides trap and went in uncontested against the AC United keeper, who made a fantastic save to keep the scoreline the same. Shortly thereafter, second half substitute Bryan Viatagliano took a beautiful touch into space, weaved his way through three AC United defenders and unleashed a powerful liner that missed the goal by inches. The teams traded blows as regulation wound to a close and AC United almost ended things early at the end of regulation on a powerful 30 yard blast that seemed destined for the right upper 90 but kept rising instead. Final whistles blew on regulation and the Hawks regrouped for overtime for the second consecutive week.

The first half of overtime was all Hawks. They seemed quicker and sharper than the tiring AC United side and opportunities were coming after fantastic interior interplay and effective diagonal balls into space, where threatening crosses were being played in. The Hawks looked to be going in front off a free kick at the edge of the box that landed and saw two Hawks players inexplicably missing an open net in the sequence. The second half of overtime started and the game evened out yet again with both teams equal in the amount of chances. As the second half of overtime wore on, the Hawks begain pressing offensively, and AC United made us pay in the 115th minute on a well orchestrated counter attack that ended with a good passing sequence to provide an AC United forward with a clear cut chance that was tucked away with maturity for the go ahead 2-1 lead. The remaining five minutes of overtime the Hawks pressured hard and almost equalized twice; however, the final whistle was blown and yet another last second result was not in the cards for the Aegean Hawks.

An unfortunate result, but the Hawks did everything to win the game except finish their chances, and in the end that's all that matters. Congratulations to AC United who finished when it mattered for a well fought victory. The Hawks can lift their heads and know that the better team did not win the match, but that is the nature of the game sometimes.

It's not often in these competitions that one has the opportunity for revenge, but that is exactly what the Hawks have when the two teams will face off next Sunday night in a game with higher stakes. The Hawks will be hungry, prepared, and ready with reinforcements to show AC United that a competitive fire flows through our veins and we will not be denied a second time. Bring on next Sunday night!

To view the USASA Region 1 brackets for National Cups, click here.

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Scorers
AC United - 15'
Geoff Thompson - 35'
AC United - 115'

Assists
Robby Wright - 35'

Saves
Safi Barekzi - 5

MVP
Tre V-Prather - CM

Honorable Mention
Ricardo Valverde - LB
Safi Barekzi - GK






 

 

 

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