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Vereinigung Erzgebirge win USL of Pennsylvania league title for first time since 2015

West Chester United had won the league five of the last six years since VE last won it in 2015

Matt Ralph

WHITEMARSH TWP. — Vereinigung Erzgebirge are United Soccer League of Pennsylvania men’s major champions for the first time since 2015 after a 2-0 win over Colonial SC on Sunday afternoon at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.

Christopher “Rat” Baker and Conor O’Donnell scored in the first half to lead VE to the win that clinched the club’s fourth league title. VE posted 14 wins on the season and the only blemish was a 1-1 draw with United German Hungarians in a mid-week game in April.

“This is really the hardest thing,” VE head coach Rob Oldfield said after the win. “We’ve had all kinds of success with the cups but to win the league really means you have to show up and be consistent and have everybody here for the full season so doing it undefeated is amazing.”

Oldfield is now a three-time league winner, having won as a player in 1996 and now twice as a head coach. The title is the fourth for VE, which won the league title in 1969 and added titles in 1996 and 2015. USLPA was founded in 1959.

Back Row (Left to Right): Derek Antonini, Sean Peckham, Christian Williams, Christopher “Rat” Baker, Tim Washam, Mike Reese, Johnny Ciarlante, Angelo Dambalas, Greg Shertzer, Fraser Colmer; Front Row: Head coach Rob Oldfield, Alec Neumann, Evan Vare, Chris Gomez, Pat Murphy, Conor O’Donnell, Victor Souto, Santi Castro
Matt Ralph

“I know what it felt like for me as a player,” an emotional Oldfield said. “It was a really important thing so I’m just really happy for these guys.”

The shutout was VE’s eighth of the season. In 15 games they conceded only eight times. They allowed more than one goal just once in a 3-2 win over West Chester United way back in Week 2 in September

“The way we did it is by not conceding goals,” Oldfield said.

The league title was especially important after the Covid-19 pandemic stripped a potential title in 2019-2020 (they were undefeated when the season was abandoned) and twice canceled the U.S. Open Cup they had qualified for in 2019 through local qualifying.

“They had so much taken away by Covid,” Oldfield said. “The fact that we kept the core together, added a few new pieces and and did this this year, it’s just awesome.”

(Left to Right): Head coach Rob Oldfield, Mike Reese, Tim Washam, Greg Shertzer and Johnny Ciarlante
Matt Ralph

Goalkeeper Tim Washam, midfielders Greg Shertzer and Johnny Ciarlante and center back Mike Reese were all also part of the club’s last league title in 2015.

“This league is really difficult because it’s hard to get guys this age that are working full time to make it every Sunday and come out and get results and West Chester always makes it difficult on us,” Washam said. “I’ve been playing for 10 years so like Robbie always says, if it were easy, we’d do it every year.”

There wasn’t a trophy to lift on Sunday and the celebration was muted by the exhaustion of 90 minutes on a muggy Sunday afternoon in the sun but the players returned to the VE clubhouse in Warminster for a boot party later in the day.

“To bring another trophy back to VE is huge and getting older you see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Shertzer said. “So I think it’s a good time to go out on top and wouldn’t want to do it with any other group of guys.”

The majors champion was the last crowned for the spring. Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals won the men’s major II division and Huntington Valley Pride won the women’s major division.