West Chester United and Philadelphia Lone Star kicked off their first USL League Two seasons in familiar fashion with a hard fought match between the local rivals decided by a second half goal on Wednesday afternoon.
The match, which kicked off at 2 p.m., was the first for USL League Two since the 2019 final in Michigan won by Flint City Bucks 1-0 over Reading United.
“I think it was really special to play our friend and foes Lone Star and have Philly represented in the kickoff of USL League Two,” West Chester United head coach Blaise Santangelo said of his side’s 1-0 win. “I think it was appropriate that it was our opportunity to do that.”
Philly Lone Star started out on the front foot with some early chances and nearly found a breakthrough off a half volley from University of Louisville striker Aboubacar Camara before halftime but Penn goalkeeper Dane Jacomen and a back line anchored by former Villanova teammates Luca Mellor and Shane Bradley did well to contain the pressure when it did come.
West Chester United, which has had a busy schedule that included a road trip to Pittsburgh over the weekend for a Region 1 Amateur Cup match against Steel FC (a 6-1 win), grew into the game and looked dangerous from the start of the second half. It was a charging run into the box from Conor Bradley and perfectly placed looping cross that unlocked the Lone Star defense. Troy Amspacher crashed the far post to put Bradley’s pass into the back of the net.
“Getting the goal was big for our confidence and then it was just a matter of seeing the game out from that point,” Amspacher said. “Conor put the ball right there, he pretty much did everything, I just had to be in the right spot.”
West Chester had multiple chances to extend their lead but Philly Lone Star goalkeeper Liam Smith was there to deny Penn forward Joey Baghdia and Princeton right back Ben Bograd on great reaction saves. Baghdia just missed the far post on a play and Mellor hit another chance in the box over the bar.
“Both goalkeepers played fabulous, we had a lot of opportunities between the six and the 12 but in this league there’s going to be high quality goalkeepers and if you’re not finishing to the corners or with pace the chances of scoring are going to be really low,” Santangelo said.
University of Delaware defender Alvin Halley had the clearest chance of the second half for the visitors when he was 1v1 with Jacomen after a free kick but Jacomen was able to deny him and keep the clean sheet in place.
“We just did not take our chances,” Lone Star head coach Fatoma Toray said. “Every time we got in the final third I just didn’t feel like we made the right choices.”
Philadelphia Lone Star will travel to Virginia to take on Northern Virginia FC on Saturday and West Chester United next hosts Lehigh Valley United at home on Wednesday night.