Bill Walleekendeh wasn’t planning to play in Philadelphia Lone Star’s second round local qualifying match against Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals on Saturday.
But when Mohamed Conde went down with an injury just before halftime, the Lone Star veteran stepped in and contributed a second half hat trick to a barrage of goals in an 8-2 win at John Bertram High School’s athletic field in southwest Philadelphia.
“I wasn’t 100 percent but the team needed me,” Walleekendeh said after the match. “It’s a big deal for us (qualifying for Open Cup). We’ve been talking about it the past couple years about how we gotta get back.”
Lone Star last qualified for the competition in 2020 through results in the NPSL season and would’ve been in the competition had it not been canceled again in 2021 because of Covid-19. The team qualified for the first time in 2017 through local qualifying.
Lone Star led 3-0 inside 22 minutes on goals from Patrick Singbah, Anthony Allison and Kanibah Kutu-Akoi and took a 3-1 lead into the break after Mikhail Krauchak scored the first of his two goals on the day.
“We just wanted to jump out as early as possible,” Lone Star head coach Fatoma Turay said after the match. “That’s what we did.”
The visitors went down to 10 men when Alexander Stoelo departed the game in the 57th minute just after Sean Murray scored to make it 4-1 and there weren’t any players on the bench to replace him.
With the man advantage, Lone Star spent most of the remaining half hour in the Ukies’ final third. Walleekendeh completed his hat trick and Singbah and Kutu-Akoi each tacked on additional goals in the second half. The score could’ve been even more lopsided if not for several key stops from Ukies goalkeeper Marko Urosevic.
“That’s the goal, just trying to control the game as much as possible,” Turay said.
The third round of local qualifying will commence on October 16-17.