January 17 th,
2010:DC/VA (MDCVSA) Open Cup Title Match
Hawks Up-Ended By Atletico VA in DC/VA Open Cup Title Game Two First Half Goals, Early Red Card in Second Half Deny Hawks Efforts for Fifth Straigh DC/VA Open Cup Crown (Falls Church, VA- George Mason High School, 1:00 PM)
In sports as in life, change is constant. Winning once is a difficult task. Staying on top is a Herculean physical and mental effort. Over the past five years, the Aegean Hawks have both reached and stood atop the adult amateur soccer landscape of the greater Washington DC area due to organization, perseverance, and talent.
As the Hawks took the field on Sunday January 17th in their fifth straight DC/VA US Open Cup title match, a familiar and determined opponent awaited. Atletico Virginia – also of the WPL - and the Hawks had faced off eight times in the past three years, and twice before in the DC/VA Open Cup title game. While the Hawks remained undefeated against Atletico with a 6-0-2 lifetime record and outscoring their opponents 28 to 7 in those contests, the rivalry had already become fierce. Following a 9-0 drubbing (playing a man down) in the 2009 DC/VA Open Cup final at the hands of the Hawks, Atletico had provided firm competition in their last two league matches, which saw the Hawks take away 4 points in a 2-1 win and a more recent 1-1 tie.
Motivation to overcome the Hawks took the form of a reconstituted lineup of recent and current NCAA D1 players to compliment and already solid core of Atletico regulars. Coupled with the devastating absences of some of the Hawks more established players, the Hawks entered the 2010 Open Cup final knowing that they would have to turn in a special performance to retain their DC/VA Open Cup crown.
The game took place under a constant rain, which seemed to hinder the Hawks possession oriented attack. In the opening minutes of the game both teams struggled to connect their passes as an adjustment to the slick turf was made. In the 11th minute, the Hawks looked to test the Atletico defense by establishing the long range shot. Center back Alan Golden’s 30 yard strike ricocheted off an Atletico defender and into the path of Hawks holding mid Michael Goldman, whose booming shot sailed ten feet over the crossbar from 20 yards. Atletico pressured in the 15th minute when outside midfielder Matt Miller’s cross was headed down into the penalty area to midfielder John Carson, whose running half-volley header lacked the snap to pose much of a challenge to Hawks netminder, Alex Fatovic.
Fatovic was called to duty again off a booming volley from 20 yards that forced an acrobatic save in the upper 90. The Hawks looked to be going ahead in the 24th minute when outside midfielder Erwin Diaz penetrated the defense and slipped a ball to a streaking Ricky Schramm, but his pull back and resulting shot was corralled by the Atletico keeper to keep things even. As the Hawks began to exert their possession dominance in the middle of the pitch, Atletico took the important lead off a corner kick. John Carson’s corner kick in the 30th minute found Atletico midfield partner Victor Krasij unmarked on the back post, who successfully headed down the opening goal of the match.
The Hawks battled back hard after going down, and after some fine combination play in the center of the pitch, center mid Watson Prather unleashed a booming blast from 30 yards that nipped the underside of the Atletico cross bar. The rebound fell to Hawks striker Ricky Schramm, who chested the ball forward and off the arm of Atletico center back Tremaine Chinapoo before being cleared to safety, but center referee John Schmitz did not judge the infraction worthy of a penalty. The Hawks continued to press Atletico, but were not finding opportunities to goal as Atletico sat in and frustrated the Hawks through solid and athletic defending and reliance on the counter attack with their lone forward. In the 42nd minute, an Atletico counter saw John Carson pick out striker Bill Whittington on a perfectly placed diagonal through ball across the center of the Hawks defense which found him one vs. one against Fatovic. Hawks center back John Stephens lunging tackle from behind appeared to be the defensive stop necessary to avert disaster. However, Whittington was taken down in the penalty area in the ensuing sequence, and the whistle was blown. Carson converted the penalty in the 43rd minute and the Hawks found themselves down 2-0 at halftime.
The Hawks remained optimistic that their chances would come during the halftime break, and began the second half in determined fashion. For the first five minutes of the half, it appeared that the Hawks were energized and poised to take control of the match, but the game took a grave turn for the Hawks in the 53rd minute when Michael Goldman was issued a straight red card for a determined tackle in midfield. Down to 10 men and facing a strong defensive formation, the Hawks shifted to a 3-4-2 lineup and inserted injured playmaker, Anders Kelto into the lineup. While the Hawks put up a valiant effort and Atletico’s chances at net were limited, the opponent was content to sit back and defend their lead and the Aegeans comeback was not to be. It simply wasn’t the Hawks day and Atletico was clearly the hungrier team. The Hawks wish their rivals success in regional play and will be eager for the next encounter to show that this outcome was only a temporary setback.
As the Hawks grapple with the realization that they will have to wait another year for an opportunity to win their DC/VA Open Cup title back, a monumental match awaits in just a week’s time to provide a motivating rebound opportunity. The Hawks will be looking to move onto regional Amateur Cup play and defend their 2009 national title against upstarts ABGC/La U, who bounced Atletico VA in the semifinals and will be sure to provide the same level of desire and skill to take the Hawks down. Let’s play.
Alex Fatovic, Alan Golden, John Stephens, Devlin Barnes, Corey Curnutte, Watson Prather, Mike Goldman, Nidhal Charfi (Nate Bukey - 60'), William Fierro (Anders Kelto - 55'), Erwin Diaz, Ricky Schramm