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Tartan Devils advance in U.S. Open Cup qualifying with 3-2 win

Photo courtesy Tartan Devils Oak Avalon FC

The Tartan Devils Oak Avalon wouldn’t be denied this time around.

In its previous two appearances in U.S. Open Qualifying, the Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League’s Tartan Devils Oak Avalon failed to advance with disappointing losses to Rochester Lancers.

On Sunday, the Tartan Devils got back on the winning track in Open Cup qualifying, beating Steel Pulse FC (MD), 3-2, on a stifling hot Sunday afternoon in Maryland.

The Tartan Devils stuck to its game plan, waiting for counter opportunities, and as the first half continued, started to build on its chances. Eventually, the Tartan Devils broke through with two goals late in the first half to storm to a 2-0 lead.

Tartan Devils’ center forward Greg Annon, in particular, created havoc up front for much of the match, terrorizing Steel Pulse’s back line.  Annon’s persistence paid off when he scored first in the 44th minute. 

Just a minute later, midfielder Marcelo Vasquez Casas hit right back with another goal to give the Tartan Devils the lead in the dying moments of the half.

Steel Pulse pulled one back in the 69th minute to make things interesting.
At that point it became a more tense, back-and-forth affair with fitness becoming a factor.

Eventually, with its younger opponents pushing for the equalizer, the GSPL’s top dogs pulled ahead by two goals when its only sub Jacob Thiel finished on his opportunity in the 85th minute.

Overall, TDFC were defensively solid, needing bailing out by newcomer, and former Robert Morris/Quaker Valley keeper Winter Fondi a few times.

Steel Pulse made it interesting with an additional goal in the 88th minute, but the Tartan Devils closed the deal, returning back to Pittsburgh with its first Open Cup win since 2017 when it made an unprecedented run to the second round of the proper tournament.

The Tartan Devils will now wait for the second round of qualifying drawing to take place this week. They’re joined by fellow GPSL squad, Steel FC in the second round, after Steel FC won its opening round match on Saturday evening.

The second round matches will be played on either October 19 or 20.  There’s a chance that the GPSL clubs could face each other.


John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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