Kendell McFayden and Kyle Rogers scored on either side of halftime as the BSC Raiders took down TFC Gunners, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon in Virginia in the first round of the U.S. Region I Amateur Cup.
Qualifying for the tournament as a result of their Buffalo & District Soccer League premier division crown from last summer, Rocky Palmeiro and Raiders were the second straight league representative to win its first cup contest, as the Clarence Coyotes downed Hammers FC, also of Virginia, in last year's first round of the Werner Fricker Open Cup.
The Amherst Sharpshooters, who won premier in 2016, stumbled in last year's U.S. Region I Amateur Cup WNYSA play-in game, falling to eventual U.S. Open Cup qualifiers Rochester River Dogz.
Featuring a starting XI geared toward on-ball pressure and pace, Raiders created two quality chances in the first 10 minutes, putting Gunners on its heels. A Chris Walter through-ball sprung McFayden in alone, but he was narrowly whistled offside; then winger Mo Hussein forced a key parry from Gunners' keeper.
The opportunistic Raiders' attack forced TFC into a mistake midway through the first half, however, and Brandon Loncar slipped in McFayden, who rounded the keeper and deposited into the gaping goal for the eventual game-winner.
Although Gunners turned up the pressure a bit as the first 45 minutes drew to a close, strong defensive efforts from the back four of Rogers, Alex Osuch, Prince SaySay and Anthony Johnson, as well as starting keeper Justin Figler, kept the home side off the score sheet.
Rogers put the game on ice early in the second half, as Chris Walter's short corner to Mo Hussein gave the former Medaille man time to swing in a cross, which met Rogers' head at the back post.
Palmeiro turned to his bench to kill off the game, substituting Alex Reid, Abdi Sabtow, Mohamed Musse, Polo Suazo and Anthony SaySay. Raiders' Chris Walter left the match early due to injury, and his prognosis is uncertain moving forward.
The U.S. Region I Amateur Cup quarterfinals are scheduled for April 22 and will be hosted by the BDSL, league president Michael Schieber confirmed in a message. Raiders will face the New Jersey representative.
Stay tuned for a roster and short preview of Lackawanna FCY's clash in eastern Pennsylvania on April 15 vs. Vereinigung Erzebirge in the Werner Fricker Open Cup.
Special thanks to Rom Figler, Greg Slabyk and Abbey Merhige for their live updates from the scene in Virginia.
*Raiders' starting XI: Justin Figler; Prince SaySay, Alex Osuch, Kyle Rogers, Anthony Johnson; Mo Hussein, Brandon Loncar, John Grabowski, Chris Walter, Ryan Walter; Kendell McFayden. Subs used: Alex Reid, Abdi Sabtow, Mohamed Musse, Polo Suazo, Anthony SaySay.