Photo: Courtesy of Vereinigung Erzgebirge
On Sunday, Vereinigung Erzgebirge (VE) punched its ticket to the United States Adult Soccer Association’s Amateur Cup regional finals with a 1-0 win over rival Phoenix SC in the Eastern Pennsylvania state championship, riding an 89th minute tally by former Harrisburg City Islander and Penn State captain Brian Devlin.
A highly anticipated match between two local soccer heavyweights, this year’s state final was the third time in four years Phoenix and VE have faced each other in the championship, with Phoenix winning both prior occasions.
It was a gorgeous day for soccer and hundreds of fans sat along the sidelines, cheering the teams, drinking German beer, and enjoying the weather.
VE would have much of the better play throughout the course of the first half, using Devlin, Greg Ermold and Matt Gorski to clog the midfield and slot through balls to flanks Kevin Wolfe and Malcolm LeBourne in behind Phoenix’s defense. LeBourne’s speed nearly put VE on the board in the 17th minute when he was able to beat his defender to get himself in a one-on-one situation with Phoenix goalkeeper Tony Practico, but his shot inched just wide of the post.
Phoenix, however, wasn’t without its own chances and as the half progressed, they began to find their passing rhythm swinging the ball across the field. Strong combination play between target Frebole Kamara and Phoenix’s two attacking central midfielders, Ryan Soroka and Jarryd Goldberg, almost gave them the lead in the 28th minute when Goldberg was able to collect the ball and weave past VE’s defense to the endline. Recognizing VE’s goalkeeper, Tim Washam, was leaving his goal line to challenge him, Goldberg tried chipping the ball over him, but was denied by the woodwork.
The second half picked up right where the first left off with each team showcasing open play. As fatigue began to set in, space in the midfield continued to grow, enabling both teams to build momentum to attack each other’s final third at speed.
Again, VE was able to break pressure when Gorski found Wolfe streaking across Phoenix’s back four, putting him in on goal. Despite appearing to be dragged down by a defender, the referee allowed play to continue in a controversial non-call.
Phoenix responded with a wave of possession over the next fifteen minutes, culminating in Justin Dotzman ringing a shot off the outside of the right post.
Just moments later, a VE clearance released Andrew Goldberg, who drove down the field with Devlin and Julian Ward joining the attack, creating an odd man rush. After eluding one defender, Goldberg served the ball to Ward, who brilliantly redirected it to Devlin for the deciding goal.
“Reaching the final is one of our team goals each season. Hosting one of our rivals made for a great day at the club and that is what this cup is all about. There’s nothing like a cup run,” said head coach Rob Oldfield.
Advancing into regional play, VE will travel to Rochester to compete against New York’s Italian American Sport Club on Sunday, April 28th.
VE: Brian Devlin (Julian Ward) ‘89
Phoenix: Tony Practico, Scott Wimsey, Matt Thomas, Nick Pittaoulis, Justin Dotzman, Danny Murtagh, Ben Castor, Ryan Soroka, Jarryd Goldberg, Frebole Kamara
VE: Tim Washam, Dave Kinneman, Alex Shuptar, Mike Reese (Julian Ward ‘78), Josh Costillo, Kevin Wolfe, Greg Ermold, Brian Devlin, Malcolm LeBourne (Andrew Goldberg ‘70), Artie Taylor (Mike McKee ‘68)
Unused sub: Brian Madden