Entering the twelfth round of league play, Polonia Gwardia NY and Stal Mielec NY are slotted at first and second place in the Division 2 South Region respectively. Now, both heritage sides are on a collision course as they prepare to meet on Sunday, March 24, for the second time this season. The two o’clock Polish derpy is sure to be one of the most impactful matches this season in regards to standings, playoff position, and possible promotion dreams to Division 1.
Only one point separates the two teams and both are coming off very different Week 11 results. The region leading PGNY went on the road and earned three points against Irish-side Panatha USA, 3-0, while SMNY collapsed against NY Ukrainians, 5-0, after losing a few key players for that match-up.
For Polonia, the idea of a D1 return can’t be far from the team’s mind. After finishing in last place in 2016-17 and being relegated to D2, the club just missed out on promotion last season after finishing behind Hoboken FC 1912 by one point. SMNY on the other hand hasn’t finished above third place in the three seasons its' played in the second tier since the groups relegation from the top flight in 2015.
The past is not what gains a team promotion however and going into the upcoming game both clubs have reasons to think they can escape with three points and first place.
In terms of offensive output during the 2018-19 season, both teams are very similar through ten games with Polonia scoring 24 goals and Stal knocking 23 back behind various CSL keepers. Heading into the 2019 spring opener, only PGNY had been kept scoreless in any contest this year - which had happened twice including a defeat, 1-0, to SMNY on Saturday, November 3rd. However, following the latter’s defeat last week that margin has shrunk a bit.
Despite only having the 5th most productive offense in D2 South with 23 goals, Stal does house some of the more prolific goal scoring talent in the region. Marczenia Pawel and Karcz Chris both have five goals through ten games - landing them tied for fourth place in most goals scored for D2 South with one other player.
Defense is going to be key and no team in Division 2 or possibly the entirety of the CSL has the prolific backline Polonia Gwardia plays on a weekly basis. Only seven goals have been scored against the team during the regular season, seven less than the next team in D2, and that includes October 2018 where the club went 2-1-0 and had no goals scored against them.
On the other side Stal has allowed 18 goals to be scored on them including the five last week. The team has currently stands with a +5 goal differential, the worst for any current playoff placed team in CSL D2 play.
No matter the outcome of this game, neither team is in danger of falling out of the top two this week since both third place Williamsburg International FC (18 pt) and fourth place Manhattan Kickers (17 pts) are outside striking distance. Though, with Stal’s loss last week and the ever shifting momentum that comes in the CSL, the team may feel even more encouraged to get any type of result in this game.