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Four-goal second half lifts West Chester United over UGH in U.S. Open Cup qualifying

Finn Reese had a pair of goals and an assist to lead the Predators to the third round of qualifying

Matt Ralph

Finn Reese scored a pair of goals and assisted on a third in a four-goal second half to lead West Chester University past United German Hungarians in a second round U.S. Open Cup qualifier at Temple Ambler on Sunday.

The two USL of PA rivals were fairly even in a scoreless first half with both teams creating chances going forward. Predators veteran Chas Wilson had the best chance of the half when he chipped a pass from Thomas King off the crossbar and Reese had a header off a Wilson pass saved by James Brett.

Jason Pixley and Sixtus Akinlosuto looked dangerous attacking the other way but West Chester center back Luca Mellor was up to the task with multiple one v one tackles and key interventions on the day, including a clearance on a dangerous ball from Joe Hansen to Belal Mohamed in the first half.

After a tightly contested first half, the breakthrough for West Chester came in the 57th minute when King fed a ball to Reese and the box and he hit a ball across his body and past Brett to the keeper’s right.

“I think it was coming and I think we broke their spirit a little bit when we got it,” Reese said of his opener.

Playing with the lead, West Chester was able to put more of their stamp on the game and found a second through substitute Levi Maruca, who ran onto a long lofted ball from Reese, maneuvered around two defenders and finished from close range in the 69th minute.

Reese wasn’t done for the day. A minute later, he collected a pass from King in the box with his defender to his left, took a touch with a heavy back spin and collected the ball and finished the Dennis Bergkamp-esque highlight-reel goal.

“I was just trying to maintain possession and somehow I poked it around the defender,” Reese said. “It probably looked better than I meant it to be.”

With UGH tiring and the result out of reach, substitute Clay Moyer was able to add a fourth when he received a pass from Mason Miller at the top of the box and pinged one in off the post.

“It was actually a really great game and we finally got some finishing down and started opening up the field of play,” Santangelo said. “But we played defense for 90 minutes and did what we had to do to move on.”

With the win, the Predators advance to the third round of qualifying in a month and will learn their opponent this week. A likely opponent would be Vereinigung Erzgebirge, which won their second round qualifier 2-0 over Lancaster Elite on Sunday.

“We know them well and respect them and they respect us and we hold each other to high standards of play on the field,” Santangelo said of VE, which won the USLPA last season. “Hopefully we’ll get a home game.”