NY Pancyprian Freedoms players celebrating a penalty shoot-out win over NY Shamrock SC in the CSL semifinal last year. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Sept. 24th, 2017
Andreas Chronis’ cross grazed off Jeff Matteo and into the net in the 93rd minute to usher NY Pancyprian Freedoms to a 2-1 victory over Newtown Pride F.C in the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup first qualifying round on Sunday afternoon at St. John’s University Belson Stadium.
Former MLS player Jeff Matteo scored a 93rd minute winner against Newtown Pride F.C in the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup first qualifying round. Picture by Devaugn Clasp
To add to his game-winning assist, Chronis netted the opener in the 82nd minute with a sweet backheel. Mauricio Turizo scored Newtown’s leveler with a 20-yard free-kick in the 85th minute.
The Freedoms move to the second round of the qualifiers after getting eliminated in the opening round last year.
Although Newtown left Belson Stadium on a losing note they dominated their opponents in the first half. The closest the Connecticut-based team came to scoring in the first period was in the 24th minute when Mauro Dos Santos sent Quenton Swift on goal with a sublime through ball. Swift kept his shot low and hard, forcing keeper Jordan Stagmiller to stick a foot out to make a breathtaking save.
NY Pancyprians came out stronger in the second period after subbing in former MLS fullback and five-time Open Cup winner, James Riley and Matteo.
However Newtown nearly scored the opener again in the 67th minute as M. Turizo whipped a shot from the box, which Stagmiller made another foot-save out of. Karim Russell hit the keeper’s rebound back toward the net but Riley was there to block his shot.
The away team paid for not finishing their chances as the Freedoms moved ahead of them by a goal five minutes from the regular 90 when an unmarked Chronis backheeled Adam Himeno’s square pass in the net.
Newtown drew themselves back on level terms with the home team three minutes later as M. Turizo hit a magnificent 20-yard free-kick to the top left corner of the net.
It appeared as if the scoreline would remain 1-1 to the end of the second half as both teams were slow to pass the halfway line under the beaming sun but the Cosmopolitan side managed to pull out a late winner.
Chronis paced down the left flank before delivering a cross that slightly touched Matteo and into in the net from the six-yard box.
Three key notes
1. Hot cup: The Open Cup qualifier was played under a blazing 91° F weather.
2. NY Pancyprians went against some familiar CSL faces: Ex-Lansdowne outside back Karim Russell and Cedar Stars Academy midfielder Sikele Sylvester competed for Newtown.
3. Pancyprians finally takes it home at home: the Queens-based club were winless in their previous four matches at St. John’s University Belson Stadium. Last time they won at home was on April 23rd, 2017.
Player's voice: Andreas Chronis (1 goal, 1 assist)
Left back Andreas Chronis converted to left midfielder against Newtown Pride and netted a goal and provided an assist.
“Moving up to a more forward position, playing left wing, I knew that I had to do something to change the tempo of the game,” an exhausted Chronis said in Belson’s home locker room after the game. “That was a great tactical decision the coach made to move me up front because I always feel that I can help the team going forward.
“I know when to attack, I know when to shoot and I know where to be on the field. Getting the goal and getting the assist makes me feel happy and it makes me feel justified for asking to move up front.”
The Connecticut-based team equalized three minutes after Chronis’ goal in the 85th minute.
“After conceding the first goal you can’t help but feel a little bit frustrated,” the former Greece first division player said. “You feel that the other team has momentum but all it takes to change the game is one play. I’m happy that I was in a good position and took the responsibility to [assist the winning goal].”
“That’s always what I asked of myself and that’s what we ask for our team, to dig deep, win games, play together and that’s what we did.”