Blown out 4-0 by Pancyprian Freedoms in last year’s final, United FC survived a late surge by Lansdowne Bhoys to snatch the Statewide Manning Cup 5-4 on penalties in dramatic fashion at the Verrazano Sports Complex last Sunday.
By Jay Mwamba
Blown out 4-0 by Pancyprian Freedoms in last year’s final, United FC survived a late surge by Lansdowne Bhoys to win the Dr. Manning Cup, 5-4. on penalties in dramatic fashion at the Verrazano Sports Complex last Sunday.
United had Joseph Oniuku ejected 30 minutes in and would cling on for dear life with nine players at the end after blowing a three-goal lead in the Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association cup final.
For Lansdowne, which made its cup final debut, it was déjà vu all over again following last season’s penalty loss to New York Greek-American/Atlas in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League championship match at Icahn Stadium.
“I’m in shock,” player-coach Austin Friel said hours after the defeat to United. “We were 3-0 down and fought back to 3-3. We could have won it in normal time.”
United’s Adam Himeno, Teddy Nizolek and Walter Hines had cast the slow starting Irishmen into a deep hole early in the second half – with the third goal coming after Oniuku’s dismissal.
But the evergreen Stephen Roche, whose penalty for Atlas helped beat the Bhoys in the title game 12 months ago, would spark an improbable comeback for his new club. The midfielder struck twice midway through the second half and with United out of subs and unable to replace the injured Brian Martines, Senegalese hitman Papa Thioune scored the equalizer to force penalties.
In the shootout, Roche, the departing Rudy Caulfield, Thioune and Sean Kelly converted their shots. Pat McCann and Stephen Conway missed.
Jean Shirok, Ben Clack, Fritzon Batista and Frank Alesci connected for United while Himeno missed. However, Kevin Garcia netted the winner to hand the Brooklynites the Manning Cup on only their second attempt.
United boss Alex Zarester had props for his shot stopper John Shelleon after the nail-biting conclusion.
“Our goalie showed again why he is the best by stopping the last critical penalties,” he said.
“However,” he added, “I also want to say that we are much more than individual players. My guys showed heart all the way until the end.”
Comparing this season’s victorious United side to the team hammered by Pancyprian in the 2012 final, Zaretser noted: “I think we are much better team this year all around although there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Friel blamed a poor opening half for their woes. “In the second half my players were brilliant. A draw was a fair result. Penalties are a lottery. I feel sorry for my players,” he said.
Still, he lauded United saying that his team’s foes was an excellent team.
To reach the final, United saw off College Point 5-1, Central Park Rangers 5-4 [penalties], New York Croatia, 4-1, and New York Greek-American/Atlas 4-3 [penalties].
Lansdowne dispatched Forest Park 7-1, Polonia 1-0 and Manhattan Celtic 3-1 in that order.
United saw off College Point 5-1, Central Park Rangers 5-4 [pen.], New York Croatia 4-1 and New York Greek-American/Atlas 4-3 [pen.] in their run to a second consecutive final appearance.
At the end of May, Manhattan Kickers had won the CSL Second Division title and a ticket back to the top flight. The club was also on the cusp of a grand slam with teams in the Over-30, and Saunders and Flamhaft Cup finals.
A 5-2 penalty loss by the firsts to EDSL envoys Czechoslovakia in the Flamhaft State Cup at Verrazano punctuated Kickers’ failure in the three competitions following defeats by their Over-30s in the playoffs and Saunders Cup.
Lucas Shanks fired in a free kick before the Czechs leveled from the spot. Kickers then suffered a double blow when Patrick Robak was sent off for rough play. Mike Fitzgerald’s men later fell 2-1 down.
With the clock ticking, Damian Lopez equalized late to take the final into penalties but Kickers’ profligacy from the spot would cost them dearly.
“Great effort by the lads inspite of the end result,” Fitzgerald said. ”This marks the first time that a Kicker first team made it to a New York State final. Only more good things to come from this squad!”
Earlier on Randalls Island, Fitzgerald had been between the sticks for Kickers’ Over-30s in the Saunders Cup final against Celtic Legends, who’d bested them, 4-2, in a shootout for the CSL title a week earlier.
Legends didn’t need penalties this time as Jimmy Conrad, on target in regulation time seven days earlier, stole the show to complete a rare treble.
onrad scored twice [10th, 20th minutes] off assists by John O’Neil, to set up a 3-1win. Barry Taylor [75th] sealed it after Bryan Baracaldo [65th] had pulled one back for Kickers.
Legends player-coach Ian Woodcock was pleased as punch.
“It was another strong resilient performance from us. We have a great group of lads at this club and it is only getting stronger,” he said.
Listing the team’s accomplishments this season, Woodcock noted: “We won our West division One [title], we won our Division One playoff final and now we have won the Saunders Cup. Not a bad year’s work, especially only coming into Division One after winning Division Two last year.”
He gave props to assistant coach Scott Lomax for his outstanding work.
In a fitting farewell after more than 16 years as player-coach, Stavros Zomopoulos banged in the last goal in a 5-1 rout of Polonia’s reserves in the D’Arpino Cup final that earned Barnstonworth Rovers ‘B’ their first major trophy.
“[Rovers] have finally won a State Cup! Congrats to the boys and Stefan Lysak who led the team,” the elated Zomopoulos said.
The other scorers at the Verrazano Complex were Ajene Green, who flew in from New Orleans just for the match; Alex Weeks, Randi Lee and veteran Ron Baskin with his club-record 87th goal.
On his dramatic departure, Zomopoulos remarked: “I could not have imagined or scripted a better finish than scoring a goal with my last kick of the ball, as the last play, in our first ever triumphant State Cup final.”
He added: “From next season, Andy Abramovits, Mark Kushemba and Stefan Lysak will be running the team, they have played combined over 450 times for our club, and I am certain that they will lead the squad to far greater achievements.”
Rovers began the day eyeing a trifecta of State Cups with Barnstonworth Premier matched against the LISFL’s Polonez in the Fritz Marth Cup for Over-30 clubs and the BRFC Ladies battling Magic in the Joe Lombardo Women’s Cup final.
However, the latter were shutout, 3-0, while the former had a goal from the prolific Nedgy Nazon in a 3-1 defeat.
A year ago in the revived League Cup, Kwesi Mills-Odoi’s brace led Central Park Rangers to a 2-1 victory over Hoboken FC.
The powerful striker notched a hat trick this time as CPR retained the Cup with a late 5-2 romp over New York Athletic Club’s second unit on Randalls Island.
“The match was far closer than the score suggests as it was all square going into the final 10 minutes with NYAC having twice come back from a deficit,” CPR manager Yuval Lion said.
Chris Barsky [27th] and Juan Lanza [68th] had NYAC in the final until Kwesi’s third strike [80th] broke their will.
Lasse Kokko and Charlie Fuentes were the other CPR marksmen.
“All credit to NYAC who played with greater energy and caused us problems all afternoon. But when we got the third goal in the 80th minute their resolve was shattered,” Lion said.
“The game was level at 2-2 [late] so the result flatters CPR,” NYAC manager Bill Saporito said. “We played them to a standstill all afternoon, coming from behind twice.”
He blamed defensive errors for Rangers’ goals, including a miscalculation by his center back that gifted Kwesi his hat- trick with penalties looming.
“After that we threw everything forward and gave up two breakaways. Harsh punishment for a great effort,” Saporito said.
Back at Verrazano, hat trick hero Omar Mata accounted for half his team’s goals as Metro Div. Two rookie side Hicksville Allstars thrashed Ridgewood Romac, 6-1, to lift the inaugural Division 3 State Cup.
Favio Mesa, Cliver Rodrigues and Jose Martinez accounted for the other goals.
For manager Roy Hildago the victory capped a successful maiden year in the CSL which saw them earn promotion to Metro One at their first attempt.
“We [finished] in second place in Metro Two, scored the most goals , conceded the least  and had no red cards in either the league or State cup competition,” he said.
Over-30 Division Two Jersey City Eagles are another rookie side in the CSL that’s moving up after finishing on a high. They blanked Hoboken 1912 FC 3-0 in a playoff to clinch promotion to Division One.
Mark Shkreli and Evoud Thompson [two] connected.