West Chester United

West Chester United in National Amateur Championship this weekend

Last Wednesday, West Chester United’s U.S. Open Cup run ended in the second round with a 2-0 home defeat to Harrisburg City Islanders.

“The guys walked away from it a little disappointed,” head coach Blaise Santangelo told PSP. “Harrisburg’s fitness was a deciding factor. We needed to have some luck.”

Santangelo nevertheless thought the experience was a positive one, for his players and his club, which will be fielding an NPSL team next season. “It was good for us to host something like that to see what we can do.”

Santangelo also had an important message to put out after his team’s defeat in the U.S. Open Cup. “I just want to thank the greater Philadelphia soccer community for coming out and supporting us. I got many emails and texts and well wishes that really show the class of the Philly soccer community, and the appreciation toward the amateur game.”

Santangelo’s team has little time to dwell on their US Open Cup exit. On Friday, the holders of the USASA’s Werner Fricker Open Cup national championship will face PDL-side Chicago Fire U-23’s in Chattanooga as part of the two-day US Soccer National Amateur Championship. If they win on Friday, they will face the winner of match between NPSL-side Chattanooga FC, current holders of the national amateur championship, and USASA Amateur Cup Champions Quinto Elemento of Kansas, for a chance to lift the Hank Steinbrecher Cup.

“Our guys are excited,” Santangelo told PSP from Tennessee on Thursday after the team took an early morning flight to Atlanta before then traveling from there to Chattanooga. “We’re ready to move on.”

The team opens the championship final weekend against the Fire PDL team on Friday at 5 pm. “We know they’re going to be good, young college kids. So, we’re going to have to slow the game down a little bit, have possession, and pick our spots to find our way up the field.”

“We’re looking to bring a trophy home.” Santangelo said. “It’s a two-game tournament. We’ve had some success with those before with the Werner Fricker Open Cup. We kind of know how to prepare, and play, and save our bodies for game two. Hopefully we can get ahead early and kind of manage the game.

“The good thing for us is that we get seven subs as opposed to three,” Santangelo explained. “That kind of helps us tactically, as well as physically, especially over a two-day event.”

Whatever the result in Chattanooga, important games remain for the team over the next month, including two games in United Soccer League of Pennsylvania play. If they win those games, West Chester will be the champion of its home league for the first time.

After that, the team will travel to Pittsburgh to play in the inaugural Keystone Cup, with West Chester representing the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association against the Pennsylvania West State Soccer Association on June 25 at Highmark Stadium, home of the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

“We’ve got a lot to play for over the next couple of weeks,” Santangelo said. “We’re just hoping to get some results.”

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