Two first-half goals less than a minute apart were enough to lead West Chester United to a 3-1 win over local rival Junior Lone Star FC in their National Premier Soccer League debut and the season opener for both teams on a rain-soaked Saturday night in Pennsylvania.
Anthony Allison nearly gave the visitors a lead less than four minutes into the game when he got behind the defense to collect a long searching ball from Vandy Slueue. But Allison’s quick chip shot hit the top of the crossbar and went out. From there, the teams traded chances, the home side off their strong wide play and the visitors off direct play from Allison and Joshua Chelleh.
It was West Chester that would find the breakthrough in the 39th minute when a Ben Maurey cross found the head of Joe Sales at the back post, who flicked it downward past a diving Prince Monyan. Moments earlier, the Stars goalkeeper had denied a chance with one of several quick reaction saves on the evening.
The lead was quickly doubled when Jake Lister dispossessed a defender, took a few touches and blasted a rocket past Monyan to his left to make it 2-0.
Lister was West Chester’s workhorse throughout the night, creating a slew of chances for himself and his teammates with dominate play in wide positions on both flanks.
“He was all over the field tonight,” West Chester head coach Blaise Santangelo said.
Lister came close to a second goal early in the second half when he got himself into a 1v1 with the keeper after making a beautiful turn and touch to get past a defender. But Monyan was there to make a fine foot save to deny Lister and keep the deficit to just two goals.
“He’s a really good reflexive goalkeeper,” Stars head coach Neewilli Saie said. “One on one he’s tough to beat.”
Monyan’s save would prove even more valuable less than 15 minutes later when Allison was tackled in the box by Jordan Logan and the referee pointed to the spot. Logan got a lot of the ball on the play, but the referee ruled that he also made enough contact on the play to award the penalty.
Allison buried the penalty with a hard shot to Johnny Paletear’s left and it was game on for the final half hour of play.
Pressing for an equalizer, the Stars found few chances in open play but did get a few more cracks at the goal on set pieces. Unable to convert heading into extra time, second half substitute Max Kroschwitz made it 3-1 with a goal off a counter to secure the three points.
The match was the second this week for Junior Lone Star, which fell on the road by the same scoreline at Ocean City Nor’easters in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night.
“We had a couple new guys come in and we’re turning over to a little younger group of players,” Coach Saie said. “It’s going to take a little bit of time for the blend of players to come together. But credit to West Chester. They played a really good game tonight. They exploited us on the wings and we made a couple mistakes in the back that led to goals.”
One of those younger players on the field for the Stars Saturday was Ian Davies, a a Philadelphia University defender who played youth soccer for West Chester United’s Penn Fusion Academy.
“It’s good to be back playing here, but obviously it’s not the result we’re looking for,” Davies said. “We’ll be looking forward to playing them again in a couple weeks.”
Saturday night’s match was the first NPSL derby for the two clubs that play just a 30-minute drive away from each other along Route 3 in the outskirts of Philadelphia. But it’s hardly an unfamiliar one. The teams played most recently in November in an Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association Open Cup quarterfinal.
“To win your first game in a new league at a higher level is important,” Santangelo said. “Especially since it’s against our local rivals. But we expected this result. We expect big things every week with the talent we are pulling into the club.”
West Chester midfielder Kyle Martyn said he was pleased with how well the team played together.
“It’s a great way to start our first NPSL season,” Martyn said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way everyone played tonight.”