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West Chester United wins Region 1 Werner Fricker Cup on penalties

The Predators won the shootout after a 1-1 draw with Jackson Lions on Sunday

Matt Ralph

HORSHAM TWP., Pa. — West Chester United are back in a national semifinal for the first time since 2018 after capturing the Region 1 Werner Fricker Cup crown on Sunday at Ukrainian American Sport Center.

The Predators outlasted Jackson Lions FC on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation. The match went straight to penalties after 90 minutes.

West Chester United had multiple chances to take the lead in the first half but it was a Daniel Russo free kick goal that opened the scoring for Jackson Lions. Dan Roth tied the game up shortly after halftime with a free kick goal of his own.

Roth had a chance to win the game just before full-time on a penalty kick but his attempt went over the bar and the shootout came down to a miss for Jackson and a make for Seidu Shamsudeen to seal it.

“I’m so excited for the boys,” said Shamsudeen, who will be playing at the University of Delaware this fall as a grad transfer and won’t make the semifinal. “It’s amazing to be able to get them to nationals.”

The pressure on Shamsudeen was lifted somewhat when the Jackson kicker missed, but it was still a big moment for a player who suffered a number of injuries in his time at Villanova. His Villanova teammate Kent Dickey set the tone early when he saved the first kick but Jackson’s goalkeeper made a save on West Chester’s first kick as well. Both teams made their next four kicks until the miss in the sixth round from Jackson opened things up for Shamsudeen’s winner.

The win puts West Chester United into their first national semifinal since they advanced to the National Amateur Cup semi and final in 2018. They lost the final to Bavarian SC. It will be their first time in the Werner Fricker Cup semifinal since they won it in 2015.

They’ll travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. for the finals on August 19 and 20.

“This group deserves a national title at the amateur level,” head coach Blaise Santangelo said. “This group has been building for 2 and a half years in all different kinds of competitions.”

Just one player is a holdover from that 2015 run — forward Chas Wilson, who started in the final on Sunday.

Though not as high profile as the National Amateur Cup — West Chester lost in the semifinal on penalties to NOVA FC which won the final on penalties over Newtown Pride FC on Saturday — the trophy has a special meaning because of who it is named after. The family of Werner Fricker, the former president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, was on hand Sunday for the trophy presentation. Fricker lived in Horsham and was involved both as a player and manager of the United German Hungarians.

“It’s huge,” Santangelo said of going back to the Werner Fricker Cup semifinal. “Especially for our area.”