New England Soccer Today

Southie Crowned Mass. Amateur Cup Champs

Photo credit: Southie FC

Photo credit: Southie FC

Southie FC strengthened their reputation as one of the region’s best amateur sides after they won the right to represent the Commonwealth in next year’s USASA National Amateur Cup tournament by beating Tarrafal FC 2-0 in Sunday’s Massachusetts State Cup final at Madison Park High School in Roxbury, Mass.

The Boston-based outfit opened the scoring in the 28th minute after goalkeeper Vinny Papageorgiou punted it downfield to set up a well-orchestrated give-and-go between Tim Ritter and Brian Grissel, who slotted it through to give his squad the edge going into halftime. Southie added to its lead immediately after the break when Thomas Ballenthin whipped a left-footed free kick that slipped out of the grasp of the Tarrafal keeper before Joe Corsello buried it at the back post in the 46th minute.

“The game had no flow to it and was very choppy – goals from the run of play were always going to be tough to come by,” Southie FC defender/manager Chris Valence told “Thankfully, our set piece defending is strong with Vinny organizing, and having strong aerial presence in Roy Sandeman and Corsello.”

Sunday’s final packed plenty of physicality. Southie was booked six times, and center back Oran Andrews received a second caution in the 78th minute, forcing his squad to finish with 10 men.

Brockton, Mass.-based Tarrafal FC, which competes in the New England Luso-American Soccer Association, booked its spot in Sunday’s final as the winner of the MASS Soccer Champions Cup, which was held during the summer.

“Tarrafal were technically very good and had a lot of possession,” Southie midfielder Roy Sandeman told “But we are very solid defensively, and totally over powered them physically, and were always going to cause problems through set plays.”

Southie reached the final after beating GPS Omens in a memorable semifinal that required a replay after the lights at Moakley Stadium went out midway through the originally scheduled match.

With the victory, Southie advances to the Region 1 bracket of the National Amateur Cup tournament, which will resume next spring. The reigning Massachusetts State Soccer League North Division champions will also be playing a U.S. Open Cup third round qualifier in April after beating GPS Omens in the second round of Open Division play last month.

“It means a lot for the team,” Valence said. “We didn’t have quite the success in the leagues we were looking for remaining in Division 2 in the BSSL, and finishing 2nd in the MSSL for the third consecutive season, as well as losing the League Cup Final. But, for Sean (Bakhtiari), Roy and I, our priority was always these end-of-the-year national cups, and in the past, we hadn’t had the success we wanted (after) losing in the Amateur Cup final each of the last two years.”

Southie midfielder Sean Bakhtiari added that the team’s collective resolve allowed them to finally come out on top in the Cup final.

“We put a lot of emphasis on our ‘team-first philosophy,’ and every player in the club (BSSL squad, MSSL team and Cup players) has made that a priority this season,” Bakhtiari told “And it’s paid off. Everyone is going to enjoy the offseason now, but will remain focused on accomplishing more in these cup competitions on a national scale this upcoming spring.”

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