All Three Top Teams Fall in Week 12 to Open Spring Season

By Michael Battista / @MichaelBattista

All Three Top Teams Fall in Week 12 to Open Spring Season

Kelmendi FC NY pose for a team photo ahead of their Spring Season debut against Beyond FC (Credit: Kemendi FC NY)

Sunday, March 6
Zum Schneider FC 03 II vs Borgetto FC (1-0)
The spring kickoff saw two teams battling for their place in the top four of Division 1. Zum Schneider FC 03 II edged Borgetto FC, 1-0, in a game that could be critical for final placement down the line.

Stephen Ojo assisted Chris de Abreau on the game’s lone goal in the first half. Ryan Horch, who filled in for Zum as head coach in place of the absent Lucas Doucette, admitted his team did not win the possession battle during the game and praised Borgetto’s midfield especially.

“This was a serious grind for us,” Horch said in an email afterwards. “I'm proud of the work rate and the spirit the team showed, especially after the winter layoff. We've now taken four points in our last two games from the top teams which we are very happy with. Sometimes you have to win ugly. All the points are ours at the end of the day and we'll take that always.”

What Zum excelled at was taking advantage of Borgetto’s high lines. Those open spaces allowed the home side multiple breakaway chances, including the game winning goal. As the game progressed last season’s Division 2 champions adjusted and Zum found less space to work.

Borgetto’s best chances on net were either stopped by goalkeeper Ricky Bowry or the crossbar. Three shots rang off the metal including a near empty net chance later on in the second half. One instance saw Bowry make possibly a save of the year contender with his left leg, a la David de Gea, to hold the lead.

Zum will host Manhattan Kickers on Sunday afternoon in Week 13. Borgetto will host Polonia SC that evening on Randalls Island.


New York Athletic Club vs Richmond County FC (2-2)
Goal scorer information not provided by New York Athletic Club
(Game Highlights provided by Game in Frame)
Division 1 leaders Richmond County FC returned from winter break with a fierce battle. New York Athletic Club out-shot the leaders and nearly left Travers Island with three points. A controversial second half left both teams with one point after a draw.

For NYAC, the game almost felt like it was robbed from them. Richmond’s go-ahead goal in the second half was seemingly hand passed like Diego Maradona was on the pitch. Despite loud protests, the goal by Dardan Gjonbalaj stood with an assist from Mark Shnadshteyn. Later on in stoppage time with the game tied again, a near break away for NYAC was stopped when their attacking player when down in the box. No penalty was given.

Bljedi Bardic scored his eighth goal of the season in the first half via a penalty kick to get his team on the board. Athletic Club got the scoring started in the 39th minute when a corner kick was firmly headed in off the crossbar. The team’s final goal came in the 76th minute with a long shot from the top of the area.

NYAC will have another chance to slay a top team this Sunday as they host Hoboken FC 1912 at noon. Meanwhile Richmond will visit FC Sandzak on Saturday night.


Hoboken FC 1912 vs Polonia SC (0-3)
Goal scorer information not provided by Polonia SC
(Game Highlights provided by Game in Frame)
In a shocking result, Hoboken FC 1912 fell to Polonia SC, 3-0. Three second half goals gave the New Jersey side it’s first loss of the season. It also dashed any hopes the team might have had to retake the table top spot following the Richmond result earlier in the day.

Hoboken’s next game will be on Sunday at noon at New York Athletic Club. Polonia will try to keep it’s spring streak going against Borgetto FC on Sunday night.


Manhattan Kickers vs New York Shamrock SC (1-2)
League Champion New York Shamrock SC returned to Division 1 action with a hard-fought come-from-behind victory over Manhattan Kickers, 2-1, on Sunday.

Despite being scoreless at halftime, the Kickers looked poised to strike. Both head coaches noted that the Kickers had multiple chances at goal in the first 45 minutes that weren’t put away. The team finally broke through early in the second half when the Rocks’ defense committed a foul in their box. Robert Fabricant scored the penalty kick into the corner past goalkeeper Alex Heston to give his team the lead.

With his team down, Rocks’ head coach Stuart Colbert started to make substitutions. The fresh legs made a difference as Manhattan continued to attack. The defense held strong and coupled with more missed chances by the home side. Around the 70th minute, Darren Coleman delivered a dangerous corner kick into the area that was headed in by returning striker Kurt Cameron.

Knowing a draw would do little in the top four, Colbert and his players pushed for a winner. A returning Joe Aronovsky was the hero as his cross floated into the back of the net. He was assisted by Owen Bradley.

“We were not at races today," observed Colbert. "Sometimes that happens and certainly playing on a small field didn’t particularly suit our style of play. But, having said that, I’m really happy to grind out a result - we can’t play well every week so these are the results you need in order to be challenging. Other results went in our favor so it’s very much game on in the league for us now!”

For the Kickers the result is another disappointing one. Head coach Bryan Baracaldo lamented that his team needed to be more clinical in the final third. However, against the defending champions he also admits there was a lot to be proud of especially in the early game.”

“Regardless, I loved the game, not the result we wanted but I think it’s a great collective effort that shows all we need is to get some luck our way; and luck is all about work,” Baracaldo said.

The Kickers will visit Zum Schneider FC 03 II on Sunday afternoon while Shamrock hosts Kelmendi FC NY on Saturday night.


Kelmendi FC NY vs Beyond FC (5-2)
Goal scorer information not provided by Beyond FC
Kelmendi FC NY started the spring season the same way it ended the fall, with a convincing win over Beyond FC. Marino Nuculović’s hat-trick took center stage in what was a very back and forth contest.

“The game went pretty smoothly. Both teams played very well, (it was) a good game to watch,” Kelmendi manager Yllu Tinaj said afterwards. "The first half was pretty even (and in) the second half we came back with more attacking.”

Glorian Hoxha and Valdrin Lekoçaj both scored goals for Kelmendi as well. They were bolstered by an attacking midfield core, led by Eduard Necaj, that put pressure on Beyond the entire game. Despite the home side’s offensive success, Beyond fought back and challenged for most of the game and especially in the first half. Tinaj specifically mentioned back midfielder Robert Gjelaj as one of the biggest players of the match for disrupting multiple chances to keep Beyond from scoring more.

Kelmendi will visit defending D1 champion New York Shamrock SC this Saturday night. Beyond will host Stal Mielec NY on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.


Stal Mielec NY vs FC Sandžak (2-1)
Goal scorer information not provided by FC Sandžak
(Game Broadcast provided by Coaches’ Corner NYC)
Stal Mielec NY needed a win badly. The team sitting second from last in the Division 1 table and in the relegation zone, had lost three of it’s last five games in the fall. On Sunday evening, the group earned a crucial three points against FC Sandzak, 2-1, and are now two points away from 10th place.

Both teams left Randalls Island with more bruises and cards than expected. In total, seven yellows and three reds were shown to both teams. By the 90 minute mark Sandzak was playing with eight players with all the ejections coming in the second half.

Stal came into the match missing multiple key players due to injury including top scorers Paweł Marczna and Marcin Jaworek. Head coach Miroslaw Pasternak’s main attacking force of Christopher Karcz, Lukasz Haunser, and Cristoph Kondrratowicz was instead bolstered with a rotating class of both regulars and reserve players. Despite the crudeness of the plan, this decision worked wonders on the final result. 

After a scoreless first half Sandzak struck first in the 53rd minute. Alem Kolenovic, who played in the reserve match prior, bounced the ball 16 meters from the top left corner of the penalty area and into the opposite netting. He was assisted by Dion Ahmetaj. However, in the 57th minute saw Florent Papuqi earn his second yellow of the night. From that point Stal took over.

Immediately following in the 60th, Karcz recovered a contested cross from Patryk Majkut in the middle of the penalty area and slid it in to tie the game at one goal each. Despite being down a man, Sandzak continued to attack. However in the 78th, a Stal corner kick into the box eventually found Slawomir Balon. His light pass into the area caught the defense off guard who believed the charging Karcz was offside. The flag stayed down, the ball went into the next, and the protests rang out.

The game got worse for the visitors as two more red cards were handed out to Agim Mujaj and Fero Sabovic. They’ll attempt to rebound on Saturday night, minus the three suspended players, as they host Richmond County FC. Stal Mielec will visit the bottom table Beyond FC the same night in hopes of jumping out of the bottom two in the table.

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