#1 Capital City and #3 Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC Emerge Victorious in Fall 2015 Helge Boes Cup Semis
Cap City - 1 vs Yinz United - 0; Fighting BOBs - 2 vs Aegean Hawks - 3
On Sunday, December 6th, the lastest iteration of the Helge Boes Cup pitted the top four teams in the WPL against each other in a quest to hoist the trophy and claim bragging rights as the top men's amateur squad in the DC area. After a long, competitive season which saw all four semifinalists separated by just 3 points in the standings, the semifinal matchups did not disappoint with two thrilling games that showcased the talent and competitive spirit of the Cup's namesake.
Semifinal A: #1 Capital City FC – 1 vs. #4 Yinz United - 0
6:00 PM KO @ Long Bridge Park #1 (Arlington, VA)
The first semifinal of the evening saw the #1 seed Capital City take on #4 seed, and two-time defending Helge Boes Cup champion, Yinz United. Capital City came into the match off a strong finish to the regular season to claim the #1 seed. Yinz United showed characteristic grit to overcome a slow start to claim a deserved playoff spot after some key victories in the latter half of the WPL season. The two semifinalists had recently squared off in the last match of the regular season, which saw Capital City notch a 3-1 victory to claim the top seed for the Helge Boes Cup.
The match started with both sides having a fair share of the ball. In the 10th minute, City picked up a corner, one that would determine the outcome of the match. Bash Bangura stepped up to take the kick, and as the ball swung in over a crowd of players from both sides, it dipped just enough to find an eager Jad El-Masri. El Masri was seeing his first action of the campaign after breaking his foot before the season, and on just his 2nd touch of the season his snap header found the side netting to put City up a lead that they would not relinquish.
The rest of the first half Yinz United pushed the play, and looked to be in for the equalizer when Joe Iraula turned his defender and rifled a shot in the box, but the strike was straight at Cap City netminder Brian Greuter who parried away from close quarters. While Yinz pressed, Cap City held on for the counter and had several quality chances themselves, but the early score stood at the half.
In the second half, Yinz was the fresher squad with the deeper bench and sent waves of attack into City territory. Yinz top scorer Andy Coulson almost equalized in the 65th on a breakaway. City, comfortable with their lead, tried to exploit Yinz’s many forays into their defensive third with the counter attack. Yinz again looked certain for the equalizer after a melee in the box in the 75th minute which saw Karim Najib’s 7-yard blast thunk off the crossbar. In the last 15 minutes of the match, desperation saw Yinz increase their pressure even more, earning 3 dangerous set pieces in Cap City territory. Marco Ciarla’s dangerous free kick services nearly got the defending champions equal, particularly a golden opportunity at the far post that was headed wide. In the face of all of Yinz’s pressure and a little fortune, the league’s leading defensive unit was up to the task and was able to see the game through and punch a ticket to City's first Helge Boes cup final.
Semifinal B: #2 Fighting BOBs – 2 vs. #3 Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC - 3
8:00 PM KO @ Long Bridge Park #1 (Arlington, VA)
The second semifinal of the evening saw the #2 seed Fighting BOBs take on #3 seed Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC. The BOBs had been to two straight Helge Boes Cup championship matches, defeating the Hawks in the semifinals twice in the process, but unable to claim the trophy over Yinz in each of the last two seasons. The Hawks had last hoisted the Helge Boes Cup in the Spring of 2014 to claim their 9th league title. In the regular season matchup between the two sides in Week #2, the BOBs dominated their rivals in a convincing 4-1 win.
The second semifinal started with the Hawks looking sharp, pinning the BOBs back in the first five minutes of the match before BOBs settled in. However, it was the Fighting BOBs that would capitalize first in the 10th minute, forcing a turnover in the middle of the park and spreading the ball to the left wing. A swerving cross into the box was met with crisp, full volley finish to the far post by former UMBC standout and Philadelphia Union alum Levi Houpeau that put the BOBs up 1-0. The Hawks continued to press forward and missed some good chances to equalize, but found themselves undone yet again by the BOBs counter attack in the 20th minute. A fantastic diagonal ball was placed between the Hawks center backs to send former Clemson University standout Eric Cava in on goal for the easy finish to put his team up a brace.
The 0-2 deficit seemed to slap the Hawks awake, and the Aegean side pressed for the remainder of the half, connecting passes and threatening the BOBs back four. In the 35th minute, the Hawks would get one back when center back Patrick Selwood would send a long ball over the top of the BOBs defense and into the path of striker David Rosenbaum for the finish and trailing 1-2 into halftime.
In the second half, the Hawks added an extra attacker to try to press the BOBs back four, but BOBs handled the extra man well. It took a great unassisted effort from Parnell Hegngi in the 62nd minute to beat his defender and the BOBs goalie in the box and slot home to tie it 2-2. After pressing hard for the equalizer, the Hawks settled back and it was the Fighting BOBs who controlled the tempo during the last 15-20 minutes of the match. BOBs looked to be in for the winner on a breakaway off a Hawks turnover, but the Hawks goalkeeper Robbie Batchelder came up with a huge save to keep the scoreline at a deadlock. In the 75th minute, the Hawks caught the BOBs playing a high line close to midfield and a ball was sent into space and onto the path of a streaking Scott Larabee. The former Georgetown standout won his 50-50 battle with the onrushing BOBs keeper and coolly finished his breakaway to grant his team a 3-2 lead while Fighting BOBs pressed for an offsides call by the AR.
After the Hawks go-ahead goal, Fighting BOBs poured on the pressure and created a lot of chances going to a 3 man back line. In the 85th minute, the BOBs claimed a penalty when a shot in the box off looked to strike the arm of a Hawks defender, but the ref did not see an infraction. With tensions high, the match finished on an ugly note when two red cards were issued after a Fighting BOBs forward crashed into Batchelder and a Hawks center back retaliated. With both teams at 10 men, the Hawks defense was able to hold on for a spot in the finals and a chance for their 10th league title.
The Fall 2015 Helge Boes Cup championship match will be played at 6 PM on Sunday, December 13th at Long Bridge Park, Field #1 in Arlington, VA.