The Long Island Soccer Football League was formed in 1948 when a group of men decided the time was ripe for the world’s favorite sport to find a home on Long Island.
The man with the vision was its founder Karl A. Weber. But as with any other venture no one man can accomplish anything worthwhile; the poet says, “No man is an island”. Karl Weber as Founder and President needed people of like mind to work with him to make his dream a reality.
He got help in the form of George Loeshner – Vice President, Walter Fritsch – Secretary and Arnold V. Boyance – Treasurer; Henry A. Shapiro was used as the legal counsel for the league.
The roots of the league can be traced back to the end of World War II in 1945 as returning GI’s coming back home from Europe and players graduating from college and high school, needing a form of recreation, found it in soccer – “The Beautiful Game”. People of varying backgrounds were moving east from New York City and wanting to play their favorite sport. The time was right for the development of soccer on Long Island.
In 1947 exhibition games were played weekly by two pioneer clubs, Franklin Square Neon’s and Great Neck S.C. They played against and won games against such New York powerhouses as German-Hungarians, New World Club, Congers Rangers, NY Ukrainians and All Star teams. Eventually clubs like Grumman S.C., and Hempstead Outdoor S.C. started playing weekly exhibition games.
To advertise the existence of our new league called the LISFL, clinics were held in schools and meeting halls. Under the direction of USSF Hall of Famer Peter Renzulli, these proved to be a huge success.
Eventually more clubs joined the league, Sea Cliff S.C., formerly Nassau F.C., Flushing Holland S.C., Rockville Centre S.C., Hempstead S.C., Glen Cove S.C., Huntington Kickers and Patchogue S.C. who had a team in the German-American League now known as the Cosmopolitan Soccer League from 1929 to 1937. They transferred their membership to LISFL in 1954.
LISFL the first organized soccer league on Long Island heralded the rebirth of soccer on Long Island; and by 1959 the league had grown to two ten-team divisions and eventually added Reserve, Junior, Over-30 teams and a Ladies division.
During the mid sixties the officers of the LISFL were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the present Long Island Junior Soccer League. After numerous false starts, the seed took root and the growth of the LIJSL has been constant. They became an independent entity that has been very successful. The LIJSL has been instrumental in developing many top class players, including Chris Armas who played in the MLS and has represented the USA on many occasions.
The adult soccer league continued to grow at a more modest rate during the seventies to the present time. It now supports four competitive divisions of open soccer, Over-30, Over-40, Over-50, and Under-23 Men’s divisions.
The clubs from the LISFL have become a respected force in the region as demonstrated by the numerous State Cups that have been won. Huntington S.C. in 1965 won the Dr. Manning Cup followed by Forest Park (1980, 2003), Cow Harbor (1987), Hicksville Americans (1988), Glen Cove (1990, 1993), Farmingville (1994), Real Caribe (1995), Integral Kings (1998), Oceanside (1999), NY Irish Rovers (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005), and Mineola Portuguese (1981, 2011).
LISFL clubs continued to leave their mark on the soccer scene, taking many major trophies. Patchogue S.C. in 1960 at St. Louis, MO, a finalist in the National Amateur Cup after becoming Eastern U.S. Champion. In 1984 Lynbrook Steuben defeated Tulsa Oklahoma Shooting Stars to become National Champions in the Men’s Over-30 division. Clubs from the Over-30 division won the New York State Marth Cup 16 years in a row, the Dr. Manning Cup 17 times, the Heidecker/D’Arpino Cup 20 times, Flamhaft Cup 16 times (12 in a row). In 2010, NY Hota Bavarians won the first ever Over-40 Amoroso Cup followed by NY Polonia in 2011 and 2012. In total, LISFL clubs have won 90 New York State Cups.
Success also came in the U.S. Open Cup as O.B. Fenerbahce USA made it to the Regional semi-final in 2010. In the USASA, Real Caribe became the U-23 National Champions in 2012.
History is time and people. It would be remiss not to mention the people who guided us through the years to the present day stability. The members are thankful and proud of the men who gave and give of their time, effort and patience through the years to lead the LISFL. Our Presidents, starting with Karl A Weber 1948-49, Walter Fritsch 1950-51, Fred J Edwards 1951-60, Leif Thiede 1961-62, John McKim 1962-65, Art Leseberg 1965-66, Pat Ryder 1966-75, Victor Mevo 1976-78, Joe Rietschlin 1978-83, also 1984-92, Luigi Pelini 1983-84, Tony Cangero 1992 to 2004, Bruce Friedman 2004 -2011, and Gus Xikis 2011 to present.
The primary requirement for membership in the LISFL was still and is ‘the exercise of good sportsmanship. Always.”
*Note: In 2013, the Hellenic-American Soccer League merged with the LISFL to provide more games for its teams in their third division. Teams are able to move up if they win their division.