The Cosmopolitan Soccer League's Second Division is one team lighter after last Sunday's wild championship game saw KidSuper Samba AC promoted to the First division. The team they beat, Polonia Gwardia NY, will have one more chance to be promoted when they take on Sporting SC this Wednesday after the group "blew" past Stal Mielec NY on a incredibly windy night last Wednesday.
Two teams already know where they will be playing next season while two more still hold their future at their feet. Here's the Division 2 playoff recap for the first round:
Sunday, June 2
(North No. 1) KidSuper Samba AC v. (South No. 1) Polonia Gwardia NY (5-4)
No goal scorer information sent by Polonia Gwardia NY
KidSuper Samba AC are the 2018-19 Cosmopolitan Soccer League Division 2 Champions after defeating Polonia Gwardia NY, 5-4, on Sunday night.
In the rematch of last year’s D2 semifinal, which was just as high scoring, PGNY slipped by KidSamba, 4-3, and went on to win the second promotion spot over FC Spring Valley (which they declined to take). Sunday night started off just as back and forth with a total of four goals coming in the first 45 minutes.
KidSuper’s Abdoulaye Diallo and regular season leading scorer Yankuba Janneh both found the back of the net in the first half assisted by Dylan Cope and leading assist man, both for his team overalland division wide this year, Ebrima Jallow respectively. However, Polonia responded back each time while it’s stout defense kept the game from getting too far out of hand. By the halftime whistle both teams were even at two goals each.
The game’s momentum after the break moved between both teams at a slower pace. Once one team got going the other struggled to stop them right away. KidSuper scored two unanswered goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half, one by Cope and the other by Karamba Janneh assisted by Alhoussain Bah. But once the league’s best defense began to regroup it allowed Polonia to commence more counter attacks towards their pushed up front line. An unassisted goal cut the deficit to one before a penalty allowed the defending runners-up to even the score late.
With the game entering its final minute, and all signs pointing towards extra-time, a critical error in the PGNY box caused a backpass to sneak by the keeper and into the net for a 90th minute own-goal. The result would be the final play of the game as KidSuper Samba AC, the top seed in all Division 2, won its first promotion to the CSL top division for next season.
Wednesday, June 5
(South No. 2) Stal Mielec NY v. (North No. 2) Sporting SC (2-3)
Sporting SC defeated Stal Mielec NY, 3-2, on Wednesday night in the Division 2 semifinal and advanced to the second promotion championship match. That game will take place this Wednesday against Polonia Gwardia NY on Randalls Island. Sporting’s Kendan Anderson earned a hat trick for his team and nearly equaled half of his entire regular season goal total in the process.
Sporting, under a new name this season, has a chance to be promoted to Division 1 for the first time in club history while Stal Mielec’s first playoff run ends after only one game.
On a particularly windy night on the island both teams struggled early on to take a foothold in the match. The team playing from south to north, which in this case was Sporting in the first half, had the benefit of the wind but also the issue of over-powered shots flying over the fence and into the night.
“Overall an entertaining game,” Stal team manager Artur Kurasiewicz said in a postgame email. “The wind was a factor. The first half was dominated by Sporting, in the second half we were the better team.”
Sporting dominated in both ball possession and shot attempts but not many were on target or threatening. That changed for both sides during the second half when all five of the game’s goals were scored.
During the match, Anderson was both his team’s biggest asset and at times a concern. Teammates yelling and encouraging him to run, missing clear one-on-one chances, having emotions run high after calls and so one.
“I think we felt the pressure tonight and him more than anyone because of the article that came out and he’s been scoring a lot of goals lately,” club manager Ed Romero said after the game. “I think he came in feeling a lot of pressure. He was hot headed, very emotional at the beginning of the game, but he cooled down and the guys worked it out.”
Working it out turned out to be scoring three huge goals for his squad in the 57th, 66th, and 82nd minutes with all three coming under defensive pressure and one, the second, happening during a chaotic scramble in the Stal box. To their credit, Stal Mielec responded in under four minutes for the first two goals each time, with Carl Tuner and Kevin Romero coming up big for their teams, but couldn’t find late game equalizer.
Even if they had and won the game, Kurasiewicz admits that should they have won the next game against Polonia Gwardia NY they probably would have declined the promotion to Division 1.
“We decided long before this game that we were not ready to go up, but regardless kudos to my guys for playing hard,” Kurasiewicz said. “The rivals just had more poise and desire - good luck to them.”
For Sporting, the team will have little time to rest. While the rest of the league holds multiple championship games on Randalls Island this Sunday the team will be competing in the final of the ENYSSA Flamhaft Cup against AC Tumi of the Eastern District Soccer League. Romero thinks that his team will be ready for both challenges.
“I think the journey to get to the finals was the hardest. I think on Sunday (the state cup final) and next Wednesday we’re gonna play more relaxed. It’s just one game, we gotta go out there and finish the job… Our fans are gonna be out there and our supporters are gonna be out there, we should be fine.”