After late drama in the second half, the Men's First Team secured a 2-1 win over Berber City FC at the Fire Pitch Saturday night to advance to the next round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
2-1 Rooks W
Rafa Santos 24' (Berber City)
Andrew Ribiero 73'
Andres Rocha 90'
Women's First Team players and fans gather to watch the Rooks play. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
As the cool air set in, fans of both sides poured into the Fire Pitch to watch the high stakes qualifying match. Players from Edgewater Castle's Women's First Team even made an appearance to cheer on the Rooks.
Gabi Cavalheiro measures up the competition. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
Once the starting whistle blew, the Rooks maintained the majority of possession thanks to continuous pressure from the forwards and a solid defense. Pressure from Gabi Cavalheiro, Bardia Kimiavi and Murtadha Kamil kept Berber City on edge by their goal, and strong defending from Roberto Cardano and Quentin "Q" Benedetto kept clashes going into the Rooks favor and the ball in Berber City's half.
Despite having solid ball possession, attempts at goal fell flat for the Rooks. Multiple shots on goal didn't reach the net, with Berber City's goalkeeper putting up a strong fight. Cardano, Cavalheiro, and Kimiavi were only some of the Rooks who had near chances at getting the starting goal.
Capitalizing off of these offensive stalls, Berber City organized a quick counterattack to score the opening net at 24'. Rafa Santos, a former player for Edgewater Castle, slanted the ball right and past Rooks goalkeeper Jacob Altstadt
Jacob Altstadt reaches out to knock a ball away from his goal. Credit: Peter Maziuk (https://www.instagram.com/petemazphoto/)
Following the score, the Rooks were able to hold off Berber City for the remainder of the half. Alstradt kept the rooks in a game with a crucial save at 39', tipping the ball above the crossbar after facing a Berber City striker one-on-one. The Rooks made a last attempt to score at 45' off of a Kimiavi free kick, but Cavalheiro's header went just above Berber City's goal.
Tensions ran high for both fans and for Edgewater's players. Both supporters on the sidelines and the Rooks bench were silent, contemplating how and if the Rooks could come back in the second half.
The Rooks regroup after halftime. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
After the break, the Rooks remerged determined to advance in the competition. Kimiavi started off the attack strong with an almost goal at 48'; after getting possession from a precise cross from Kamil, Kimiavi was one-on-one with Berber City's keeper. After striking, his kick went straight into his arms dead center of the goal.
Kenny Nana tackles to stop a Berber City player's advance. Credit: Peter Maziuk (https://www.instagram.com/petemazphotfo/)
The Rooks defense also stepped up. Player/coach David Arbidor entered the second with the Rooks and led their back line to prevent them from gaining offensive momentum. Strong challenges from Kenny Nana also restricted Berber City when they tried pushing in the midfield.
Berber City and Edgewater Castle players meet following Amine Airaki's (on ground) ejection. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Tides turned for the Rooks when Berber City captain Amine Airaki was ejected from the game. After tackling Cavalheiro from behind, Berber City was down to 10, giving the Rooks the edge they were looking for.
Andrew Ribeiro fights for the ball. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Shortly afterwards at 73', the Rooks struck. Andrew Ribeiro launched a shot from 25 yards that deflected up and over the Berber City keeper for the 1-1 draw. Berber City tried to rally at 84', but a near miss and a massive diving save to the right by Altstadt kept the game level heading into extra time.
Andreas Rocha and his teammates celebrate his game-winning goal. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
On one of the final plays of the game, Andres Rocha put Berber City's hopes to rest. After rushing past their back line, Rocha hit a left diagonal goal in a one-on-one matchup against the keeper that shut out all of the Rooks' previous solo attempts. Getting the score to win the game, the crowd and bench erupted in joy and celebration. The Rooks, through hard work and determination, secured their advancement in the dying embers.
Quentin "Q" Benedetto and Gabi Cavalheiro embrace after the win. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Be sure to catch more Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action as Edgewater Castle faces Chicago House on October 21st at 7 P.M. at Taft High School Stadium. You can purchase your ticket here:
We hope to see you there!