Report: Real Maryland 3 - NY Pancyprian Freedoms 2
US Open Cup 1st Round
By Max Lom
Real Maryland passed a stiff test Friday night in their first game in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against a Cosmopolitan League team, the New York Pancyprian Freedoms. The Monarchs advanced to the next round after a 3-2 victory in extra time at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Despite having a clear advantage in possession and chances throughout, the Monarchs did not lead in the game until the last five minutes of extra time when defender Marcos Chantal was awarded a goal that was actually nodded in by midfielder Muner Hassen on a rebound from Dennis Alas’s 35-yard free kick blast.
The goal was Hassen’s second of the game, but Chantal will be thankful for receiving credit after his blunder in the 22nd minute, which led to New York taking the first lead in the match. After holding the ball for too long in his own area, he was dispossessed by Freedoms forward Julio Cesar DoSantos, who then slotted past Maryland keeper Emilio Zelaya to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
After shaking off the shock of conceding the first goal, the Monarchs began to build up pressure on New York’s goal, but did not find a breakthrough in the first half, and almost conceded another just before halftime as Tasos Polydefkis’s counterattack effort hit the post and went out of play.
After the break, Real Maryland really started to charge forward in waves as New York goalkeeper Dilmer Martinez, who was very impressive throughout the game, kept the Monarchs at bay. The breakthrough came in the 56th minute when a free kick from the right side by Alas was headed back across goal by Hassen for the equalizer.
Maryland seemed to settle in after that, and an Alas rocket from distance almost gave them the lead in the 67th minute. Just as the game seemed ready to tilt towards the Monarchs, a free kick for the New York side produced their second goal of the game in the 69th. After several redirections, Matia Damiani got a foot to the ball on the back post to put them in front, sending their pocket of traveling supporters into rapture.
The Monarchs once again went back to work, and created a number of chances, but Martinez and the brave Freedoms defense held on to the lead despite constant pressure.
However, in the 83rd minute New York’s Panagoitis Halkidis picked up two yellow cards in separate incidents on either end of the field and was dismissed from the match. Two minutes later, Maryland equalized once again as Hassen fed Alas on the right where he struck a low ball across the area and on to the foot of Nilson Perez on the far post.
The Pancyprian Freedoms defended desperately for the remainder of regular time, and Martinez was forced to make several saves to keep his team in the game.
The game slowed in the first period of extra time with a Ronald Cerritos header being the only real chance for Maryland. In the second period though, the pace picked up, and the Monarchs charged forward again with the man advantage, eager not to allow the game to go to penalties.
The extra man, and extra pressure paid off in the 117th minute as a foul in the center of the pitch, 35 yards from goal, gave Alas his free kick opportunity which led to Hassen’s goal.
With the win, Real Maryland will head to Cary, North Carolina to face the Railhawks of USL-1 in the next round of the Open Cup, to be played on June 24.
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