FC Buffalo men beat rival Erie 5-1, win first-ever Brewers Cup (video)

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FC Buffalo got contributions from all over the roster as it began its four-game away trip by beating the Erie Commodores 5-1 in the second leg to claim the 2024 Erie County Brewers Cup at Saxon Stadium in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Max Kwitchoff, Ander Castillo, Ashton Jell, Calum Newson, and Nico Stoddart all scored to help FCB to a 7-2 aggregate win over two legs. The Wolves beat Erie 2-1 in the first leg at All-High on May 16.

The Wolves scored all five goals in the second half, starting with a ridiculous run of three goals in around nine minutes: a rocket from Kwitchoff, a penalty by Castillo, and a 1-2 between Jell and Timo Jansen, who had two assists on the night.

Newson capitalized on an Erie giveaway, but the Commodores regained a goal. Stoddart’s late goal off a touch pass from Aitor Jorde restored the four-goal lead. 

Castillo also scored against Toledo Villa on Sunday and opened the scoring in the first leg against Erie to give him four goals this season. 

Head coach Sean Hallas has started his brief tenure in charge with a 3-0-0 record and will return to Buffalo with the first-ever Erie County Brewers Cup after the 31st match-up between the fierce rivals.

[ RELATED: Hallas, Grant, Kwitchoff speak after win over Toledo ]

Despite the high score, the Wolves and Erie ended the first half scoreless, with Andreas Kokoska making a terrific save in the frame. The Wolves showed positive offensive signs but couldn’t find the final ball until the second half.

Wolves starting strikers Ander Castillo and Felix Kogler troubled Erie’s defense as both made timely runs behind the center backs and set up their teammates through their hold-up play.

FCB’s starting lineup changed from Sunday’s against Toledo, as Hallas used the “friendly” to get a look at new faces. First-year midfielder Gaven Egan started at the center attacking midfield, Aney Djadou started at right wing, and Matheus Spina got his first start on the left side.

The lineup changes, including the debuts of some summer signings, influenced Hallas to adjust his tactics slightly.

“A few guys got more minutes today and played for the club for the first time. They were trying to find their feet,” said Hallas. “If there is no option in midfield and we can’t circulate the ball, then we must go long into Felix and Ander…Having an outlet for them is unbelievable.”

Wolves midfielder Timo Jansen, who entered later in the first half, assisted the team through his playmaking and link-up with both strikers. 

Despite the Wolves’s numerous chances and Jansen’s impact, the first half ended 0-0.

The Wolves opened the scoresheet in the first minute of the second half as Jansen found captain Max Kwitchoff, who curled it inside the near right post from 20 yards. 

After winning the ball from the Erie defender on the right flank, Castillo muscled his way to the penalty area, where the defender fouled him.  

Castillo scored his fourth goal of the season after he calmly converted on the penalty kick in the 53rd minute. He also scored a penalty in the Wolves’s 2-1 first-leg win versus Erie at All-High.

[ RELATED: Castillo, Spina score in the first leg vs. Erie ]

FCB took a 3-0 lead two minutes later after a give-and-go combination between first-half substitutes Ashton Jell and Jansen. Jansen, who picked up his second assist of the game, first-timed passed to Jell, who made a run from the right-hand side of the 18-yard box to pass his defender. Jell toe-poked the ball to the left-hand side of the bottom post.

Striker Calum Newson scored his first goal of the season after capitalizing on a misgiven pass from an Erie defender near the right side of the 18-yard box. From a distance, Newson smacked the ball into the left corner of the net in the 68th minute, giving the Wolves the four-goal advantage.

Two minutes later, Erie midfielder Cade Wurstner pulled one back for his team after running behind the FCB backline to score a first-touch shot into the bottom left post. Wurstner’s goal inspired Erie to push for a comeback. 

Still, the Wolves sealed the win and trophy after forward Nico Stoddart faked his defender to blow past him and dart towards the net. Using his left foot, Stoddart slotted the ball towards the bottom far right post for the 5-1 second-leg win. 

“The boys are all digging in. We got goals from all around the team, and it is enjoyable to coach them,” said Hallas, praising this FCB roster for their effort and quality. 

“The boys are giving me everything, whether they are coming on for five minutes off the bench or playing for 90 minutes, or watching the team from back home in Buffalo,” said Hallas. “They are just a top group.”

Over the two legs, the Wolves won the first-ever Erie County Brewers Cup 7-2 on aggregate, a significant achievement for the entire club and city of Buffalo.

“I’m going to enjoy the moment,” said Hallas as he saw his players celebrate together with the cup. “This title means a lot for me since winning is the whole part of doing this [coaching and playing the sport].” 

FC Buffalo’s men continue their road swing for the next three games with a trip to Toledo on May 29 for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Paul Hotmer Field, its first 2024 USL League Two away match.

FC Buffalo’s women’s team begins its season at 7 p.m. Friday versus FC Berlin at Buffalo State University.

Erie Commodores 1-5 FC Buffalo goals, Brewers Cup video highlights