Local Leagues / Match Report / West Chester United

Match report: West Chester Predators 1-2 Philly Lone Star

Photo: Blaise Santangelo (from 2015)

There could not be two more polar opposite semipro soccer teams facing off on Wednesday night in West Chester.

Both Philly Lone Star and West Chester Predators have been starting to heat up as they prepare for a long competitive National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season. Both teams made noise in the U.S. Open Cup, where Lone Star fell during an unfortunate, perhaps wrongful exit to Reading United in the First Round. West Chester’s dramatic win over Baltimore Christos FC in a penalty shoot-out during the First Round was followed by a hard-fought loss to USL side Birmingham Legion FC.

Ultimately, Lone Star picked up the win against their local rivals on Wednesday night, with a late goal from Kouassi N’Guessan providing the margin of victory in a 2-1 win.

Each team’s style and tactical makeup are vastly different. Lone Star traditionally favors a 3-5-2 in which they attack through their wingers and two forwards with over-the-top balls, as well as penetrating dribbles by their wingers. West Chester, on the other hand, prefers a more free-flowing interchanging 4-5-1, in which wingers may end up at the forward or attacking-mid position depending on where their possession and supporting runs take them.

Lone Star can also be seen employing a 4-3-3 later in some games, but on this occasion, they decided to stick with the 3-5-2 for the full 90.

At the beginning of the first half, however, West Chester seemed to go like-for-like matching Lone Star’s 3-5-2, this choice by the Predators made for an open, exciting first 45 minutes.

The first goal of the match was scored early on when the official awarded a penalty to Lone Star following a questionable tackle in the box. The penalty was finished off by Bill Walleekendeh.

As the match went on, Villanova’s Andreas Bartosinski controlled the middle part of the pitch for West Chester by tackling hard, distributing quickly, and ultimately setting up the equalizer for Villanova teammate Evan Vare. Vare smashed home on the half-volley to Lone Star goalkeeper Vinny Tasca’s left.

But Lone Star’s back three of Mussa, N’Guessan, and Wilmington University defender Elliot Johnson proved to be sturdy enough to hold West Chester’s attackers — including Loyola’s Sam Brown, Notre Dame’s Aidan McFadden, and Chas Wilson — to just the one goal.

Lone Star winger Nyakeh Kamara asked questions of West Chester’s defense with his pace and dribbling throughout, but was unable to get on the scoresheet as he was dealt with well by the Predator backline.

It was a battle of two All-American keepers in the action-packed second half, as West Chester’s D-III All-American AJ Marcucci and Lone Star’s D-II All-American Tasca both played remarkably well.

On more than one occasion, a penalty could have been called but was not awarded. A questionable offside decision on a Lone Star counter spared Marcucci of having to come up big 1-v-1 with Lone Star forward and captain Anthony Allison, an accomplished goal-scorer.

With the score still locked at 1 all, Vare had an opportunity to score from outside the box. Tasca had just made a save and was caught out of position on the rebound. Without Tasca in the frame, Vare swerved a right-footed shot with the outside of his boot, which came back across the frame into the hands of a recovering Tasca.

Late in the game, Allison found himself able to strike at the keeper from inside the penalty box. An offside player who became active in the play ultimately forced the ref to stop the play and clear West Chester of imminent danger.

In a frenzy to connect on a late winner, Lone Star defender Kirri Mussa served a lofted back-post corner into the box that was finished off by N’Guessan (who has earned the nickname “Pique”). This goal proved to be the decider in this high-spirited NPSL bout.

West Chester will look to bounce back with some players returning from trials with USL Championship side Pittsburgh Riverhounds (defender Enda O’Neill, forward Troy Amspacher, and midfielder Chad Poarch) when they travel to Scranton to play the Electric City Shock on Saturday, June 8th at 6:00 p.m.

Lone Star will look to keep their strong run of form going when they play New Jersey Copa FC on Saturday, June 8th with a 7:30 pm kickoff at their Philadelphia supersite.

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