The beginning of the spring season means the second half of CSL first division’s 2018-19 season is underway and teams will be making their final pushes to secure league gold. In a twist of fate, three of last weekend's five games either featured a comeback or winning goal taking place in the second half as well.
Two of the league’s irish heritage clubs, Lansdowne Yonkers FC & NY Shamrocks FC, had seperate games on the same weekend as St. Patrick’s Day as both battle in the table’s top four - but only one came away with a win.
Here’s the full recap:
Saturday, March 16:
Lansdowne Yonkers FC v. NY Athletic Club (3-2)
Despite it being a day early, the luck of the Irish was with Lansdowne Yonkers FC as the team beat NY Athletic Club, 3-2, to remain in the top four of Division 1.
New team signing and North Carolina State senior Stephen Elias scored the winning goal in the 83rd minute off a volley after nearly 40 minutes of pressure from his team.
“Very thankful for the opportunity to play for a great club,” Elias tweeted after the game. “Extremely blessed to be able to score my first goal and be able to win the game. Couldn’t have done it without the bhoys help.”
The Bhoys were able to stick around through a back and forth game which saw two lead changes in the first 45. Lansdowne took the first lead 15 minutes into the game when Johan Mauritzon recover a cleared corner 18 yards out before sticking it in low from distance.
Athletic Club wasn’t diswaid however as Yonkers continued to pressure. After a chippy back and forth, the team knocked two in over the span of five minutes past a backline ladened with local collegiate talent. First, a corner kick gave Alejandro Sucre an opportunity to get one in with a volley. Not long after Amara Sesay made what both coaches considered a tremendous goal when he bicycle kicked in the second from 18 yards out.
“Amara has been phenomenal for us and that goal was proof-positive of the type of natural ability he has,” Athletic club head coach Jimmy Lannon said after the match.
Ovan Oakley made sure to give his Bhoys the chance to start the second half on equal footing when he scored the equalizer in the 35th minute. The second half saw a lot of subbing and shifting from Lansdowne head coach Jim Kelly who brought on former Stoke City U-23 prospect Shola Ayoola, Carlos Bonilla, Morten Wenaas, and others who kept legs fresh and pressing looking for the winning goal while also keeping the Athletic Club at bay.
Zum Schneider FC 03 v. NY Pancyprian Freedoms (1-3)
The Division 1 leading NY Pancyprian Freedoms needed multiple goals in the second half against Zum Schneider FC 03 to hold its’ top table position for another week.
In the early going, Zum Schneider put the seven-time league champions in the corner as Lukas Hauer put his team up. The German native and former St. Francis Brooklyn athlete was the only member of his squad to finish that night, including two tight missed chances that could have added onto the team’s lead prior to halftime.
The game shifted almost immediately as play resumed as the Freedoms evened the score and took the lead within the first five minutes. A foul in the ZSFC box gave the visiting team the equalizer off a Andreas Chronis’ penalty kick. A few moments later off another Freedom attack, Lukas Ostermann’s shot deflected past goalkeeper Ahmed Faiad to give his team the lead.
Both teams battled in the last 40 minutes as Zum Schneider looked to salvage a point, but a late Adam Himeno goal sealed the game for Pancyprian.
“On another day, result could of been different,” team manager George Halkidis said in his official post-game report. “However team showed character and won a game in which we didn’t perform the best in.”
Sunday, March 17:
Central Park Rangers Whites v. Cedar Stars Academy (0-2)
Cedar Stars Academy started the spring season off by increasing its’ unbeaten streak to three games as the second place squad defeated Central Park Rangers Whites, 2-0, on a windy day by the East River.
Phil Bannister and Chris Katona both earned their second and seventeenth goals of the season for CSA respectivly. Katona also aided his team with an assist on Bannister's goal and Patrick Guier also came through with one as well. Keeper Bryan Lopez was heavily protected by his backline but made it count when challenged by stopping five goals while in net.
The Academy faces Doxa FC next Sunday as the team begins a two game home-stand.
Doxa FC v. NY Shamrock SC (1-0)
Fresh off winning in both the Open Cup and Premiere Cup Divisions at the 2019 CSL Indoor Tournament, Doxa FC remained on a hot streak as they beat third place NY Shamrock SC, 1-0. The win puts some space between Doxa and the bottom four of the division as the team now sits at 13 points on the year.
The Rocks were under-manned heading into the contest, with many players missing the spring season opener due to other commitments.
Coach Kevin Grogan explained in his official post game quote that the lack of players made it “impossible” to make key movements or subs during the game. He went on to say that the team needs to be fully committed if they want to remain a powerful force in the league.
“Doxa deserved the win,” Grogan said. “There is a challenge for us. Time will tell if this squad has the determination and commitment to achieve our goals and targets this season. One thing I do know is that it starts on the training ground and in the gym.”
An early missed one-on-one chance was one of the Shamrocks best chances of the night. On the other end, Doxa did not need to get close to the box as the side kept threatening from distance with long strikes and deep passes. Bradley Nestor finally broke through from 25 yards out off a pass from Federicos Curbelo to put his team up and once that happened it was only a matter of holding back the gassed Rock squad and contining to press until the 90 minutes were up.
NY Greek Americans v. Hoboken FC 1912 (2-1)
After starting the 2018-19 season with 2-1-0 record, Hoboken FC 1912 extended it’s winless streak to eight games after falling to NY Greek Americans, 2-1, in the club’s spring opener.
The Greeks shined on their home field on the chilly evening as Long Island Rough Riders’ star Tyler Botte earned MVP honors with an assist and the winning goal for his team. The strike came in the second half, just as Hoboken’s Kevin Halliday got one into the NYGA’s net to put them within striking distance of securing at least one point from this game.
Halliday’s assist came in the first half off a feed to Andrew Sousa who slipped one past the Hoboken keeper to give his team its first lead of the night.
Hoboken looks towards next week as they face off against fourth place Lansdown Yonkers FC while Greek Americans looks to keep pace with the Bhoys in a match against CPR Whites.