From Jay Mwamba
Nov. 29, 2017
Hellenic giants Pancyprian Freedoms and New York Greek Americans completed punishing late November schedules with a titanic clash at the Metropolitan Oval Tuesday night that ended with a 6-5 penalty victory by NYGA in the State final of the U.S. Amateur Cup.
The two archrivals produced a Herculean effort after a rush of bruising games going into the Thanksgiving weekend.
Three-time U.S. Amateur titlists Pancyprian were playing their fourth game in 12 days, while NYGA, national amateur champions in 2014, ran out for their fourth match in nine days. It was also the Greeks’ second outing in 48 hours after a 2-1 loss to current U.S. Amateur Cup holders Lansdowne Bhoys in a league tussle at the same Met Oval.
Missing several players – some casualties of the Lansdowne battle – NYGA hit the post twice but saw strong starting Pancyprian take a 2-0 lead courtesy ofGabriel Camara and Adam Himeno.
Camara struck after intercepting a botched clearance by NYGA’s Jimmy Nealis. Himeno doubled the lead early in the second half.
Implored to press higher at half time, the Greeks did that and it paid off.
Shaun Foster was instrumental in the fightback.
“He had a tremendous second half rallying the team back, setting the tone, winning headers and scoring the first of our two goals, as well as hitting the [shot] which created an own goal,” said NYGA’s Tom Bouklis.
It ended 2-2 and went to penalties where Greek goalie Andrea-Roberto Pellegrini was heroic.
Nino, Danny Elliot, Colin Murphy, Nealis, Steve Roche and Joe Ruesgen scored for NYGA.
And after Andreas Chronis, Alecko Eskandarian, Daniel Bedoya, Luis Estevez and Jeff Matteo had tallied for Pancyprians, Pellegrini blocked the Greek-Cypriots’ sixth and seventh shots to secure NYGA the de facto New York State amateur crown.
“Pancyprian are a great team and it was an incredibly hard challenge,” said NYGA technical advisor Richard Nuttall.
He also had kudos for Lansdowne, who the Greeks defeated in another penalty shoot-out to reach the final.
Pancyprian, whose three U.S. titles came in 2008, 2010 and 2011, had routed Doxa FC 6-1 and edged NYAC on penalties to reach the final.
Lansdowne Bhoys went five points clear atop the CSL after a 2-1 comeback win over defending champs NYGA in a gripping grudge match at the Met Oval, on a slow Thanksgiving weekend in the league.
NYGA had dashed Lansdowne’s hopes of a fourth consecutive CSL title in the playoffs last June [1-0]. The Greeks had also shattered the Bhoys’ dreams of retaining the U.S. Amateur title in a penalty shootout this fall. The Bhoys, for their part, had blanked NYGA 3-0 in the Rapaglia Cup final in September.
So there were serious scores to be settled on both sides on a perfect night for football.
The undefeated U.S. amateur kings took the game to the Greeks from kick off, while effectively shutting down NYGA ace striker Tyler Botte.
Both Lukas Zarges and Jean Voltaire had early chances for the Bhoys. The latter, with a close header at the back post, and the former, shooting wide when one-on-one with the goalie.
The Greeks in turn were dangerous on the counter and it was Dubliner Stephen Roche, a former Bhoy, who got off a shot from the left that narrowly missed.
They finally hit the mark on the stroke of half time, center back Harri Hawkins heading home from a flick-on across the box.
The Bhoys pressed for an equalizer on resumption with Brett Nason and Michael Holzer controlling the midfield. Daryl Kavanagh and Ovan Oakley had half chances and Zarges shot over the bar.
However, it was the Greeks who had the first real chance forcing Bhoys keeper Kabo into another one of his world class saves from a blistering shot to the bottom right.
NYGA fired another effort past the post and defense kingpins Sean Kelly and Tom Wharf -- the latter a former Greek player – had to be at their best to keep the score at 1-0.
Bhoys coach Austin Friel went to his bench and introduced Dave Nigro and Momodou Gurissy and yet again Nigro had an almost instant impact causing all sorts of problems for the Greeks.
Some 10 minutes of sustained pressure earned Lansdowne a free kick from which Zarges leveled [70th]. He placed the ball into the top right corner.
Friel then introduced Joe Lopez and Frankie Navarro, with the injured Kavanagh one of the players withdrawn. In all-out offensive, Voltaire crossed from the left after another powerful run for Joe Lopez to nod home [80th] from close range.
There was a late Greek rally but the Bhoys would hold out to partly atone for the two significant losses to their nemesis this calendar year. They improved to 8-0-1 .
Friel was happy with the result but felt Lansdowne still had enough left in the tank to go up a gear. The two rivals clash again December 5 in the State final of the Werner Fricker Cup which the Yonkers Irish are defending at both regional and national level.
Before that, however, is another Irish derby for the Bhoys -- with Irish Rovers this time, in the quarterfinals of the Manning State Cup on Saturday.
Lansdowne’s second unit triumphed 2-1 in the curtain raiser at the Met Oval to make it nine wins out of nine starts.
Coach Sean Kenny could only muster a depleted squad on Thanksgiving weekend but his available players performed above and beyond expectations.
It was goalless after an absorbing first half marked by end to end action.
“The second half again was a good open game with both teams playing some good football without really opening up the other defense,” reported Lansdowne president William McGrory.
Brian Kenny [65th] then broke the deadline, sprinting past two players on the right and blasting into the net from 18-yards.
Unruffled, the Greeks would hit back through Meshack Addy after a one-two on the edge of the box. It was only the second goal the Bhoys have conceded in open play this season.
There were two minutes left to play when Arten Baja latched onto a through ball and scored the winner -- preserving the Bhoys’ hundred percent record.
Coach Kenny was, predictably, elated. He gave credit to the fringe players who stepped up and kept the run going.
Next up for the seconds is a D’Arpino Cup tie with Pancyprian Freedoms ‘B’ at Tibbetts Brook Park this Sunday. Lansdowne are pursuing a fourth straight D’Arpino Cup.
In another late game at a frigid Pier 40 on Thanksgiving Sunday, a BW Gottschee side that only had 12 players came away with a 2-0 decision over Metro Div. One rivals Gotham Argo.
“Joel Marsan made his first start for the team and proved worthy of the shirt when he knocked home Paco Osorio's pass to give [us] a 1-0 lead at the half,” said Gottschee boss John Ryding.
“Gotham looked dangerous at times on the counter attack. But our defense was able to contain them and the game looked more comfortable after Tommy Mastoras made a fine run at the goalkeeper on a free kick taken by Christian Paredes. When the keeper was unable to hold the shot, Tommy tapped in the insurance goal,” added Ryding.
Man of the Match honors went to Dion Amvrosiatos who kept a clean sheet in his first start between the sticks this season.
With the win, Gottschee [5-2-2, 17] move up to third place in the league, two points behind Mr. Dennehy’s, who have a game in hand, and seven adrift of perfect FC Ulqini [8-0, 24].
"[This] was a good win in what could have proved to be a Thanksgiving turkey,” noted Ryding. “Gotham had great speed but center back Joe Lobosco gave us the defensive cover that we needed and Captain CoCo made a couple of fine saves to hold onto the three points."
Gottschee are gunning for second spot before Christmas.
Ryding explained the permutation: “If Ulqini pick up four points in their last two games of the fall campaign and we beat Deportivo Sociedade, then we will be in second place by Xmas. It has been an adjustment but the lads are finding their feet and responding well to the higher level of competition.”