From Jay Mwamba
Aug. 1, 2018
CSL champs Lansdowne Yonkers are through to the playoffs of the inaugural Northeast Elite Soccer League after decisioning Izee Auto FC of Maryland’s MLS 2-0 in Baltimore.
The victory sealed a third place finish for the Irishmen [3-1-2, 6] in the exclusive seven-team summer competition featuring the top sides in USASA’s Region 1.
Lansdowne, U.S. amateur titlists last season, face New Jersey’s Motown Lions in the playoff semis on August 12 for a shot at the NESL trophy. That encounter will be a rematch of their group clash that ended 3-0 in Motown’s favor.
Motown finished level on points with Lansdowne after six games but edged out the CSL giants on goal differential.
Cedar Stars Academy, who entered a youthful reserve team, were the other CSL envoys in the NESL competition.
“A big win for the Bhoys on the road after a long road trip to Baltimore,” club president William McGrory celebrated the win over Izee. “Lansdowne started brightly in very hot conditions. They settled in well in the middle of the park with Daryl Kavanagh, Ogoo and Robbie Egan all doing well.”
The Izee defense was carved open several times but a clever offside trap by the hosts thwarted the rampaging Bhoys.
However, the pressure eventually paid off and an excellent pass by Man of the Match Ian Sweeney put Andrew McFarlane through. He coolly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper.
The Bhoys stayed on the offensive with Paul Wilson and Jean Voltaire both going close with a shot and header, respectively. Later, Sweeney got behind the Izee defense only for the keeper to make a dramatic save at the lower left post.
Izee regrouped during the interval and were the better side at the start of the second half. For 15 minutes, they went at the visitors.
To their credit, Lansdowne’s backline held firm. “Sean Kelly, Shane Hennessy, Martin Dadaj and Voltaire were superb and anything that did get through Bhoys’ keeper Kabo dealt with it,” said McGrory.
Slowly Lansdowne got back into it and began to hit Izee on the break with Egan and Ogoo pulling the strings and Kavanagh linking play. It wasn't long before Izzy cracked again.
Sweeney was once again instrumental in a move that saw Wilson beat a defender and scored after rounding the goalie.
“As Izee became more stretched, the Bhoys introduced Donje Green and Coffee and both did well on the flanks, with Green getting in on a Kavanagh flick pass and forcing the keeper into acrobatics with a tremendous save,” said McGrory
“Coach [Sean] Kelly was delighted with the performance and praised the whole team for its hard work and discipline. Lansdowne will now need to see how other results go during the week to see who they will meet in the semi-finals.
Remarkably, Kavanagh and goalie Abdoukarim “Kabo” Danso were both playing their second game in 24 hours. They turned out of FC Motown in a 2-1 extra time victory over F.C.M. Portland in the NPSL national semi-finals at Drew University. Former Bhoy David Nigro nodded in the winner.
Co-owned by Cedar proprietor Oliver Papraniku, FC Motown return to Drew University in Madison, New Jersey this Saturday [kickoff 7:30 p.m.] to square off with Miami FC 2 in the NPSL national final
The Northeastern Elite Soccer League is branded as an opportunity for top teams from the United States Amateur Soccer Association’s Region I along the eastern seaboard to play in an extra competition across the region.
In addition to Lansdowne and Izee Auto FC, the other participants are Cedar Stars [CSL], Christos [Maryland Major Soccer League], Junior Lone Star FC (Philadelphia Premier Soccer League], Motown Lions [Garden State Soccer League] and West Chester United [United Soccer League].