GPS Omens, the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay State Soccer League defeated Newtown Pride FC of the Connecticut Soccer League 3-1 last Sunday at Newtown High School in a 2017 US Open Cup qualifier.
GPS used a flurry of goals before and after halftime to take a commanding 3-0 lead and a stout team effort on defense held Newtown to just a late consolation goal in the victory. My full match report with unofficial lineups and box score can be found over at TheCup.us.
The win puts GPS Omens into a possible third round of amateur qualifying for the Open Cup though dates and matchups for that round (if necessary) have yet to be announced as the second round of qualifying is still on going. After the match, Keith Caldwell and Eric Anderson, who combined for GPS' opening goal of the game talked about the important opening goal right before halftime.
"We had been playing really well, but hadn't generated any clear cut chances." said Caldwell, brother of New England Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell. "In the build up to the first goal [GPS defender] Pete Nolan played a great through ball and then I set up Eric."
Anderson put all the praise on his midfield partner, as the big striker had nothing more than a simple pass into the net to give GPS a 1-0 lead right before halftime.
"Keith's great in 1-on-1 situations, so I just made my run expecting a great pass," Anderson said. "It couldn't have been set up better."
Caldwell also talked about the team's strategy in the second half, trying to attempt a lot of crosses into the box and forcing Newtown to deal with the pressure. It paid immediate dividends for GPS as they scored twice in quick succession after halftime on two very different crosses. One from the right that Newtown keeper Drew Nucifora was unable to deal with that spilled to GPS striker Charles Romero and the third goal on a corner from the left headed home via a deflection from GPS' defender Ryan Dunn.
"We were just trying to put good balls on target all game. On the corner we just got a header that deflected in," Caldwell said of his second assist of the match but was quick to return praise to the rest of his team. "It was a total team effort from start to finish today."
Newtown head coach Mike Svanda was disappointed overall about the game, as he had to name a late arriving player into the starting lineup. This meant Newtown started the first 15 minutes a man down though they held GPS to few chances in that stretch.
"Starting the game with ten players I thought GPS had several good chances to break through," Svanda explained. "But once we got all eleven players on the field I thought the rest of the half was very even."
Though the Pride were down one at the half, Svanda had options off the bench and in the second half subbed on Christian Turizo near the hour mark. Turizo and his brother Maurico Turizo would eventually combine for Newtown's late goal, but the 3-0 deficit was too much to come back from. The old adage of pressing for offense and exposing yourself in defense rang true for the Pride's coach.
"We didn't play well today, but GPS is a good team and they were very organized throughout the game," said Svanda. "The second goal was tough, we had to chase the game, brought in Christian to spark the offense and got a goal."
But the goal would only be a consolation to the Connecticut based side who will now focus on the Region 1 USASA Amateur Cup or Werner Fricker Cup in the spring. GPS awaits a possible third round qualifying opponent or their spot in the first round of the tournament proper in the 2017 edition of the U.S. Open Cup.