2009: Region I - US Open Cup Quarterfinals
Aegean Hawks FC - 2 vs. VE Majors (PA) - 0
Hawks Overcome Demons, Beat PA Team in Regional Play for First Time
(Warminster, PA - 2:00 PM, VE Main Field)
The Hawks opened up their Region I US Open Cup campaign today in Pennsylvania as away visitors to Vereinigung Erzgebirge Majors, winners of PA qualifying. Conditions for the match were less than ideal, with soaking rains pouring down prior, during, and after the match. As the Hawks made their way up I-95 prior to the match, it was clear that the game was going to be a tight affair in tough conditions where anything would be possible. In a match that lived up to those preconceptions, the Hawks dominated possession and stung once in each half, but VE remained ever-dangerous with a direct attack and the outcome was never certain.
The Hawks opened up the first 15 minutes controlling play but unable to capitalize on several clear opportunities. VE almost went one up on the Hawks against the run of play in the 15th minute, when a free kick was sent into the Hawks box and directed into VE's tall striker, Paul Duddley. His touch and strike banged off the crossbar, and the ensuing rebound was rifled just wide of the Hawks post. The Hawks increasing combination play in the midfield paid dividends in the 25th minute, when center midfielder and co-team captain Watson Prather delicately slotted a through ball onto the path of striker Anders Kelto streaking into the VE penalty area. His excellent first touch allowed him to strike a well-placed shot across the goal mouth and against the inside of the far post for a 1-0 Hawks lead. The Aegean side almost increased their lead in the 40th, when outside midfielder Erwin Diaz squirted his way through several challenges to blast a shot from 12 yards, but it went wide right of the far post. VE's defense held strong, blocking several Hawks strikes and mustering a couple of chances of their own prior to the close of the half, but the score would remain 1-0.
At the break the Hawks stressed the importance of another goal to put the game farther out of reach, and the Aegeans took to the pitch resolute in the task ahead. Play continued in much the same tenor of the first stanza. Hawks outside midfielder Mike Minai almost tucked one in at the 60th minute on the far post after an exquisite cross, but his running volley was wide of the mark. The Hawks were able to breathe easier in the 70th minute when Anders Kelto settled a rebound off a corner and rifled a shot low and hard, again striking the inside of the post for a brace and a 2-0 Hawks lead. The Aegeans were able to hold on for the remainder of the match to collect a hard fought road win. A gritty performance in conditions that were not ideal, but the Hawks proved that they can navigate adverse conditions. The Hawks back line of Voss, Stephens, Thurston, and Valverde played great throughout and were able to thwart VE's direct attack in the air. Striker Carlos Garcia was a terror throughout the match and his creativity and passing in the final third were instrumental to the Hawks ability to dominate possession. Anders Kelto gets the brace and the MVP award for sheer efficiency, but goalkeeper Nick Carlin-Voigt and the Hawks defense get the honorable mention for the important and well-earned clean sheet.
VE proved fantastic hosts, and after an intense and competitive match, both teams flocked to VE's clubhouse to enjoy a few drinks and a post game meal. With the victory today, the Hawks have advanced to the Region I Semifinals in the Open Cup against Charm City FC of the NPSL on May 24th (4-1 winners over Christos FC of MD). The winner of that match will qualify for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and the opportunity to play Cinderella against a USL side.
On the immediate horizon, however, is a Region I Amateur Cup Quarterfinal tie against US Parma of the New Jersey Champions League at Denison Nursery in Waldorf, MD. The game is scheduled for 2 pm kickoff and the Hawks will be looking to again eradicate the ghosts of years past, which have found the Aegean side eliminated in the quarterfinal round in both the 2007 and 2008 versions of the Region I Amateur Cup tournament.
Nick Carlin-Voigt, John Stephens, Clayton Voss, Eddie Thurston, Kubiak Valverde
Nate Adams (Corey Curnutte), Erwin Diaz (Mike Minai), Mike Goldman, Watson Prather
Carlos Garcia, Anders Kelto
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