Words around the first division before the upcoming season

By Ralph Chery

NY Greek Americans players in a huddle. Photo by Dinos Avlonitis

 

Sept. 9th, 2017

 

The first division kicks off tonight with a matchup between Lansdowne Bhoys and Central Park Rangers Whites. Players and coaches around the league expressed how they feel about the upcoming season.

One of the most anticipated aspect of the 2017-18 campaign is how the Bhoys will enter the season after winning a national double but losing to NY Greek Americans in the league’s semifinal last last year.

 

Lansdowne Bhoys captain Sean Kelly

Bhoys captain Sean Kelly shared his state of mind before going into the season as the amateur champions.

“Lansdowne is going into the new CSL season as the best amateur team in the country,” an excited Kelly said back in August.  

“The feeling will be a feeling of pride, we accomplished what we set out to do. We were within the last 3-4 years the team to beat in the CSL and the fact we are double national champs will just give other teams the urge and hype to try compete and beat us now.”

 

Lansdowne Bhoys skipper Sean Kelly. Hess Boys Photography

 

The Irish defender also uttered that Lansdowne will bounce back from their semifinal loss to NY Greeks last season and win the league.

“This year come June-July 2018 the only name that's going to be on that CSL trophy is going to be Lansdowne Bhoys,” Kelly said.

 

NY Greek Americans playmaker Stephen Roche

NYGA midfielder Stephen Roche also voiced his goal of winning the CSL title—alongside a national double.

“No team has managed to win the CSL and the nationals in the same season showing how difficult it is to do,” Roche said. “That is our aim as I’m sure it will be Lansdowne’s as well.”

 

NY Greek Americans star midfielder Stephen Roche. Photo by Dinos Avlonitis

 

Cedar Stars Academy new forward Chris Katona

Meanwhile Cedar Stars Academy added former Richard Stockton University star striker Chris Katona to their roster after missing out on the playoffs last year.

“I’m anxious for the season to get underway,” Katona said. “CSL is a very competitive league as I look forward to be a part of the challenges ahead.”

“To have the opportunity to play under [coach] Oliver [Papraniku] and the rest of the coaching staff and have the team we have, there is no doubt in my mind that will put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs this season.”

 

NY Pancyprian Freedoms captain Georgi Spanos

NY Pancyprian Freedoms made the playoffs the past four seasons but only to lose in the semifinal once and in the final three times.

Captain Georgi Spanos and his teammates will look to break their curse in the final by bagging the CSL trophy this season.

“Getting to the finals for the last couple of years is not enough for us,” Spanos said. “We don't pride ourselves on making it to the finals. We pride ourselves on the trophies in the trophy case at the club. And those are the standards we judge ourselves by. So I’m very eager and hungry to start the season.”

 

Shamrock SC head coach Kevin Grogan

The team the Freedoms defeated in the semifinal last year, Shamrock SC, will enter the season with their usual one-game-at-a-time mentality under their head coach Kevin Grogan.

“My goal is to try to win the first game,” Grogan said. “One game at a time. It’s a very competitive league. Every point will count.”

He previously stated: “We are very happy with our new recruits. We feel we have strength and depth. It’s going to be an extremely hard season. I anticipate points being picked up and dropped by all teams.”

 

Shamrock SC head coach Kevin Grogan. NY Shamrock Images

 

Central Park Rangers Whites player-coach Eli Vovsha

The Rocks started an outstanding streak in the CSL two years ago: two straight seasons of no relegated promoted teams. D1 newcomers CPR Whites player-coach Eli Vovsha is assured that his side won’t break the streak by getting relegated.

“We believe that the squad is much stronger now than two years ago [when they were relegated], and we expect to cement our place [in the first division].

 

Doxa SC head coach Paul Grafas

Head coach Paul Grafas, who kept Doxa in the top-flight in their first year back there, will look to put into practice what he learned last year this season.

“I know the competition is at a very high caliber so we must come into each and every game with a good mindset,” Grafas said. “Last year we improved after each game and now have a better idea of what lies ahead of us. We are up for the challenge.”

Manhattan Kickers, Zum Schneider F.C 03 and NY Athletic Club are the other teams that will compete in the first division.

The Kickers will be playing their first season back in the elite division since 2014. Zum Schneider on the other hand will be completing their second season in D1 under new head coach Maximillian 'Mecki' Mansfield. And after staying in D1 by only three points last year, NY Athletic goes into this season with 14 new signings.  

 

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