WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — New Jersey Copa FC overcame a two-goal deficit in the first half to rally for a 5-3 win over West Chester United SC in a National Premier Soccer League game at Mercer County Community College Saturday night.
West Chester United SC entered the Keystone Conference matchup ranked No. 3 of 98 teams in the NPSL power rankings, having outscored opponents 16-1 in its first four games of the season.
New Jersey Copa FC improved to 3-1-0 while handing West Chester (4-1-0) its first lost. NJCFC entered the day with six goals in its first three games.
An efficient NJCFC side put seven of its 10 shots in the game on frame, scoring five times. Anthony Ferrer, Jonathan Yazo, Louis Silva, Raphael Araujo and Rafael Terci scored for NJCFC. Goalkeeper Juan Giraldo stopped four shots.
Yazo and outside back Dennis Correia were named the New Jersey Copa FC co-Men of the Match.
NJCFC led 1-0 just 2:09 into the game when a long ball up the right sideline sprung Silva on a full sprint. Silva sent the ball across the right endline and WCUSC keeper Andrew Verdi came off his line to break up the cross but couldn’t handle it cleanly. Ferrer gathered the loose ball inside the six, tucking it away for a 1-0 lead.
West Chester answered four minutes later when Richie Schlentz settled a cleared ball and ripped a one-timer from 25 yards that slipped through the high hands of Giraldo.
West Chester went ahead on an own goal in the 15th minute and gained a 3-1 lead late in the 38th minute on a beautiful double assist. A flick from the right endline from Aiden McFadden to Evan Fare near the 18, was chipped to the far left post, where Chas Wilson was unmarked and knocked in an easy shot.
The momentum began to swing in the 45th minute. After a WCUSC foul and caution card resulted in a free kick from just outside the left corner of the 18, Yazo curled an attempt to the back post and it slipped untouched through traffic to far side netting. That cut the WCUSC lead to 3-2 at the half.
Less than three minutes into the second half, Copa tied it. Correia curled a cross from the right wing onto the far post, forcing Verdi to extend to tip it away. The rebound landed at the feet of Silva for the easy finish and a 3-3 deadlock.
Giraldo made a key save in the 59th minute when Vare curled a shot on goal and Giraldo went up to punch the attempt over the crossbar. In the 63rd minute, defender Angelo Jack sprinted half the length of the field to stop another breakaway bid by Vare.
In the 68th minute, a WCUSC hand ball in the box gave Copa a chance to pull in front and Araujo, NJCFC’s most dangerous striker, cashed in, drilling a penalty kick into the far left side for a 4-3 edge and eventual winning goal.
WCUSC’s best chance to equalize it came in the 80th minute, on a broken play in the box, before Giraldo smothered a shot by David Bettenhausen that had been blocked by the Copa defense.
A substitution gave NJCFC an insurance goal. Terci, a star at Montclair State University, entered the game late in the 80th minute for Ferrer and needed less than four minutes to write his name in the goal column. Leutrim Saiti played a low ball to the back post where Terci was waiting for an easy 84th-minute tap-in.
New Jersey Copa FC heads to Red Bank, N.J.’s Count Basie Park on Wednesday, June 13 (6 p.m.) for its first-ever meeting with FC Monmouth, playing in its inaugural NPSL season.