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West Chester United closes in on U.S. Open Cup qualification

West Chester beat New York Pancyprian-Freedoms 3-0 in the third round of local qualifying in Queens on Saturday night

West Chester United moved even closer to qualifying for the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 3-0 win over New York Pancyprian-Freedoms in Queens on Saturday night in the third round of local qualifying.

The Predators had to overcome an early blow when they lost starting goalkeeper John Paletar to a head injury just five minutes into the match, but were able to absorb pressure and beat the New York Cosmopolitan League opponent and three-time Open Cup champions (1980, 1982, 1983) on three counter attacks.

“We knew that our pace would give us these opportunities and it was a huge part of our game plan,” said West Chester United head coach Blaise Santangelo.

Philadelphia Union Academy grad Matt Greer, who had the lone goal in West Chester’s 1-0 win over four-time Open Cup winners Ukrainian Nationals in the second round of local qualifying, opened the scoring in the 38th minute with a 25-yard laser on a play started by a cheeky header from Chas Wilson.

Chad Poarch created a second goal four minutes later when the former High Point University and University of Delaware player received a diagonal pass from Conor Osborne and fired a shot from outside the box that hit a defender and went up and over the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 going into the break.

Poarch was involved in another goal from his wide back position on the left flank when he was able to get forward, beat a couple defenders and play a ball to Villanova grad Andreas Bartosinski at the top of the 18, who was able to connect with the ball and beat the New York goalkeeper to make it 3-0.

“From then on it was all about keeping a clean sheet,” Santangelo said.

The back line included Enda O’Neill, Peter Nolan, Sam Bollinger and Conor Osborne.

A decision hasn’t been announced yet on whether U.S. Soccer will add a fourth qualifying round so West Chester United will now have to wait to see if they’ve qualified for the 2019 U.S. Open Cup or if they have to win one more game. There were three rounds played for the 2018 competition and two played each of the two previous years.

West Chester last qualified for the “Open Cup proper” in 2016 when they made their tournament debut and ended up hosting the Harrisburg City Islanders in the second round after advancing past Fredericksburg FC on penalties in the first round.