Over the weekend CSL Division 1 action continued around New York City and across the Hudson River for Week 13 of the season. With regular season play halted next week for Eastern New York State Soccer Association (ENYSSA) Cup games, the top four spots remained chaotic as multiple teams jockey for playoff position while another battle to avoid relegation plays out at the table’s lower end.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Saturday, March 30
NY Shamrock SC v. NY Pancyprian Freedoms (2-0)
The NY Shamrock SC did exactly what was nessessary to jump back into the CSL D1 top four as it beat the NY Pancyprian Freedoms, 2-0, on Randall’s Island.
The win against the division leaders not only puts the Rocks in fourth from a points perspective, but the two goals keep the team ahead of Lansdowne Yonkers FC who lost its game. The two teams sit at 21 points each but the Shamrocks stay ahead via goal differential, 3 to 2.
That sliver of a lead was nearly ruined in the second half as the seven-time league champions tried to claw back from a multi-goal deficit. Rock’s goalkeeper Stephen “Skins” Skonieczny made a crucial second half save to preserve the lead and stayed perfect the entire game to earn the clean sheet.
”Extremely proud of our players,” said head coach Kevin Grogan in his team’s post game report. “They bounced back after a few tough weeks. We beat the league leaders through work ethic, discipline and concentration levels. We deserved the win. We now enter a massive April with the League Cup and two crucial league games.”
Travis Blair started the scoring after ten minutes when Kwesi Mills-Odoi closed down a Freedoms clearance at the edge of the box. The loose ball landed near Blair who kicked the winning goal to the top right corner.
Ten minutes later, Mills-Odoi once again played setup man one more time as his cross from the right side caught the Freedoms’ defense off-guard. The ball found Chris Uy who finished with a tap in to seal the game.
Both teams return to league play next weekend (April 13-14) where the Rocks will face Hoboken FC 1912 on Saturday while the Freedoms face off against second place Cedar Stars Academy.
Sunday, March 31
Cedar Stars Academy v. Lansdowne Yonkers FC (3-1)
In the top divisions’ biggest game this week both Cedar Star Academy and Lansdowne Yonkers FC played a full 90 minutes of great football. In the end, the Stars came away with the win, 2-1, off two late goals that got passed a fill-in keeper.
CSA now sits at 31 points, three behind the first place Freedoms (34 pts) and eight ahead of the NY Greek Americans (23 pts). Meanwhile the Bhoys have now fallen out of the top four with 21 points, tied with fourth place NY Shamrocks SC but below them on goal differential.
“Cedar Stars collectively played together and for each other today,” Cedar Star forward Chris Katona said in a postgame email. “Huge difference compared to last week where we were lackadaisical in our approach to the game and within the game. We didn’t play our game. Today, everyone showed up as it was an important game. Glad we came out with the results in our favor. Hopefully we can carry this on against first place (Pancyprian Freedoms) next week (on the road).”
Around 15 minutes in following both teams getting chances to feel themselves in, league scoring leader Katona increased his total to 18 when Walter Calderon found him on a pass. The Cedar star dribbled around Yonkers’ keeper Mike Kennedy and finishing on a semi-open net from the left side to give his team the early lead.
Both teams traded momentum but neither found the net for the remainder of the first 45. The young Kennedy, who was filling in for the regular Abdoukarim Danso in the Lansdowne net, made up for his early mistake and held the Stars back with help from his defense as the first half ended.
The pace of the game didn’t settle in the second half despite both teams missing veteran starters. Another Katona chance forced Kennedy to make an incredible save early on but the young 18-year-old injured himself in the process. Lansdowne was forced to put an extra defender in net. Almost as compensation the offense nearly immedietly picked up the pace after as Stephen Elias scored his third goal in as many games off a cross from the right side that was bobbled by the Cedar defense.
Seeing his team start to lose the game, CSA Head Coach Austin Friel made the decision to bring in Matt Nigro. Around 70 minutes into the game, Katona found the fresh Nigro and from distance, around 25 yards, the fresh sub sunk the winning goal into the far side of the net. Five minutes later, Hani Nasr played a ball to Waler Calderon who beat his defender and struck a ball from 50 yards into the back of the net past the offset Lansdowne keeper.
As Katona mentioned before, his team moves on to face the Freedoms in a match that could see a change at the D1 top. Lansdowne meanwhile plays Central Park Rangers Whites on Saturday, April 13, at home.
Doxa FC v. NY Greek Americans (0-1)
Doxa FC could not make it three wins over top four opponents as it fell, 1-0, to the NY Greek Americans.
Team manager Peter Legakis explained that the Greek Americans’ highly defensive style made any chance on net tough to come by.
“We were not on our best today,” Legakis in an email. “The Greeks sat back the whole game which made it difficult to break through but we did not capitalize on our chances.”
The only score came in the 80th minute when the Greek’s Dilan Rock capitalized off a defensive error to give his team the win. Doxa nearly evened the score five minutes latter but a great save by the opposing keeper sealed the game.
With the loss, Doxa falls to seventh on the Division 1 table, tied at 17 points with Zum Schneider FC 03. NY Greek Americans jump to third place with 23 points with two teams only trailing them by 2.
Zum Schneider FC 03 v. Hoboken FC 1912 (2-0)
Two goals secured the win for Zum Schneider FC 03 against Hoboken FC 1912 as the former kept its’ hope for a playoff spot alive for another week.
While the result was positive, missed chances and sloppy passing prevented Zum from taking an even bigger foothold during the game. The team’s presence in front of the Hoboken net was constant but the final piece or necessary passes were wasted as the group left multiple goals off the board.
Despite this, the team did strike early in the game to take the lead. Five minutes into the game Tomas Gomes intercepted the ball from Hoboken in midfield and found Lukas Hauer ahead of him and on-side. The latter charged on and scored for his first goal of the season.
The final goal came in the 60th minute as Yusuf Mikaheel got his second assist in as many games when his charge down the middle brought out goalkeeper Jon-Paul Francini from the 1912 net. Mikaheel flicked the ball past the rushing keeper and a quick Gomes ran through and scored the tap in.
The win is ZSFC’s second consecutive clean sheet and keeps the team in sixth place with 16 points, four behind both NY Shamrocks SC and Lansdowne Bhoys, with five games to go. For Hoboken, the loss is another weight as the team looks to avoid relegation back to Division 2. With eight points on the season, the team can still catch up to NY Athletic Club (11 pts) but face off against two Top Four teams in the month of April during league play (Shamrocks and Cedar Stars Academy).
Central Park Rangers Whites v. NY Athletic Club (1-1)
The game to end Week 13 saw neither Central Park Rangers Whites and NY Athletic Club get the two extra points needed in their draw, 1-1.
CPR Whites Head Coach Eli Vovsha put it bluntly in an email after the game.
“Overall it was a scrappy match where neither team really deserved 3 points,” Vovsha said.
The wind played a major factor on Randall’s Island. Once the sun went down, both teams had to contend with the chilly temperatures and shifting gusts. To start off though, CPR Whites had the wind at their backs which helped push the team on offense. Offensive chances become easier as the defense contended with wind in their face and the ball travelled with ease thanks to the additional force.
Travis Cantrell scored for his team in the first half after outhustling a defender and pushing the ball past the keeper from close range that deflected in and gave CPR the early lead.
Following the halftime break however, the tides shifted as both teams switched sides. NYAC created more chances as CPR struggled to deal with the wind themselves. Around the 55th minute, Jeremy Tenenbaum tied the game on a finish inside the 18 on an assist from Jimmy Lannon.
Despite the disadvantage, CPR and Athletic Club traded chances but none came close to threatening as the game finished out. The outcome leaves both teams in the bottom three of Division 1.