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Elvis Amoh's Hat Trick Leads Hartford Athletic to First Win of 2023 in U.S. Open Cup
The Green and Blue beat Lansdowne Yonkers FC 3-0 to move on to round three.
It was a successful night for Hartford Athletic on Tuesday, who saw their first win of the season come in dominant fashion: a 3-0 win over Eastern Premier Soccer League (EPSL) amateur side Lansdowne Yonkers FC in round two of the US Open Cup.
It was the first win of the season for the Green and Blue, who featured a heavily rotated starting lineup for the midweek clash that came just three days after their 1-1 draw with Orange County FC on Saturday. Joe Rice made his first start between the sticks for Hartford, while Kyle Edwards and Connor McGlynn were among those who also featured in the starting XI for the first time this season.
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The game got off to a slow start, as neither side were able to find a clear look at goal in the first 25 minutes, although Hartford dominated the majority of the possession in their attacking half. It was the visitors who would find the best chance of the early stages in the 23rd minute however, as a well-weighted pass would split the Hartford defense and find its way to a Lansdowne attacker through on goal. A loose touch off the back of the attacker’s foot would see the resulting effort go just wide of Joe Rice’s goal.
From here, it was all Hartford. Just minutes later, in the 27th minute, Antoine Hoppenot’s cross would find the head of Kyle Edwards, who redirected the ball across the face of goal for Elvis Amoh to head home from close range to give the home side the 1-0 advantage.
Just two minutes later, Amoh would slam another shot from distance against the crossbar, coming just inches away from a second goal. Hartford would continue generating a plethora of chances throughout the remainder of the half, with one of the better chances coming in the 38th minute.
Luke Merrill’s close control at the goal line would eventually see a half-clearance find the feet of Prince Saydee at the top of the box, who sent a curling shot just over the crossbar. Minutes later, yet another well-worked move from Hartford saw Hoppenot’s close-range effort pushed over the bar by Lansdowne keeper Anet Clement. Before the conclusion of the half, Amoh would register Hartford’s 16th shot of the night, sending a low, driven shot across the face of goal and against the far post.
Despite the attacking dominance that didn’t allow Lansdowne in Hartford’s box once through the first 45 minutes, Hartford could not find the back of the net again as the visitors went into the locker room down just one goal.
“We had to keep doing what we were doing [in the second half], because I think it was just a matter of us wearing them down,” Hartford head coach Tab Ramos said postgame. “It was important to stay disciplined and not get out of shape. If you get out of shape, now on the counter they [Lansdowne] can create opportunities.”
Coming out of the break, it was more of the same for Hartford. A slower start to the half still saw the Green and Blue maintain the majority of the ball inside Lansdowne’s half, but the visitors were able to stay disciplined on defense for the better part of 20 minutes. Saydee had the best chances for Hartford in that time, registering two shots. One came from a blistering run down the right flank from his own half that eventually saw his effort hit the side netting, while the second came just minutes later, as his shot from inside the box was deflected out by a Lansdowne defender.
However, that all changed when Hartford once again ramped up the pressure. In the 72nd minute, it was Amoh once again who drilled a shot towards goal from close range, only to have it blocked in front of goal by the hands of a Lansdowne defender. Amoh slotted the resulting penalty kick calmly into the bottom right corner to double the lead for the home side with his second goal of the night, 2-0. Clement guessed correctly and dove the right way in goal, but was unable to keep the spot kick out.
The home side would complete their performance in the 84th minute, when Cedeño’s low cross from the left side across the top of the box was dummied by second-half substitute Jonathan Filipe, finding the feet of Amoh who was left wide open inside the box with a one-on-one opportunity. The forward calmly slotted the ball under Clement to complete his hat trick, collecting his fourth goal of the season to cap off a 3-0 Hartford win. It was Cedeño’s first assist for Hartford, and only the second hat trick in club history.
“It’s important, it’s important because we had been starting to play a little bit better [coming into the game],” Ramos said. “We have been creating chances and we have not been scoring. Fortunately today we were able to score three goals, but I think more importantly we were able to create a ton of chances.”
The lead also gave Ramos a chance to show off his team’s depth, with Jonathan Filipe, Ash Apollon, Tulu, Danny Barrera, and Ali Taleb all seeing action off the bench. Currently signed on a USL academy contract, Taleb marked his professional debut in the win.
Hartford would finish the night taking 24 shots (nine shots on goal) and creating 20 chances en route to their first win of the 2023 season. They will find out their round three fate on April 7th, when a random draw will confirm their next opponent.
‘We’re excited,” Amoh said. “We needed a win to boost ourselves and go into Charleston. So it feels good to win this game.”
Hartford will return to USL Championship action on Saturday, traveling to the Charleston battery for a 7 p.m. kickoff. It is the start of a three-game road trip for the Green and Blue, who will not return home in league play until May 6th.