Doxa SC midfielder Patrick Alvarez on the ball against Zum Schneider FC 03. Photo by Dinos Avlonitis
May 6, 2017
From 2011 to 2015, five out of the seven teams that were promoted to the CSL's first division were relegated in their first season in the top flight. Another promoted side is in danger of getting relegated in their first season back in the elite division, Doxa SC.
The Greek-based club sits in ninth place with 12 points, one point away from safety. However after the first half of the season, the team was in fifth position and had tied with last years finalists Lansdowne Bhoys and Cedar Stars Academy. Head coach Paul Grafas expressed that his side isn’t going back to the second division after those two results on October 12, 2016.
“We are putting up a statement that we are not a team that was promoted from Division 2 to come here and let these teams get away with whatever they want to do to us and push us back down into the second division, we are a team to be taken seriously,” Grafas said.
Seven months and 10 CSL games later, as mentioned, the club is now in the relegation zone. But Doxa still believe they won’t get knocked down to the second division.
“I think we’re definitely going to pull through,” midfielder Patrick Alvarez said about fighting the relegation zone battle after his side's 2-2 draw with Zum Schneider FC 03 on Sunday. “We got the heart in the team and I believe in us.”
Doxa SC midfielder Patrick Alvarez. Photo by Dinos Avlonitis
Alvarez shared that in order to stay in Division 1 Doxa needs a lot of character and to finish their scoring opportunities.
“It’s going to take a lot of heart,” the midfielder said. “At the end of the season, it’s a marathon, not a race. We just have to figure it out as a team and just fight through it and capitalize on the moments we do have because if you don’t finish your opportunities and the other team gets one, you can lose 1-0. So we need to finish as many as we can and get the ball in the back of the net and hopefully we stay alive.”
Doxa missed a multitude of close scoring opportunities in the second half against Zum Schneider. As much as Alvarez is disheartened by the misses, he sees them as a confidence builder going into the next game.
“We definitely had a lot of opportunities and that’s a good thing going into next week," he said. "We know that we can get to the goal, we know we can break down teams, we know we can get there, we just have to put them in the back of the net.
“And that’s the cherry on top, we did all the ground work of getting there, all it takes is one more to put the ball in the back of the net. It’s good morale for us, knowing that we can get to goal like that and often.”
Paul Grafas’ men 2-2 draw with Zum snapped a four-game losing streak in the league. Alvarez noted that this tie—their first point of the second half of the season—is its side’s first lap out of the dropzone.
“We’re not out of it [the relegation zone] yet, I feel like this [the 2-2 draw with Zum] is the first step,” the 25-year-old said. “We were missing two key players from yellow cards from the game before so we were missing two players that would’ve been a huge part in this game.
“I don’t think it’s enough yet but I think we have what it takes to stay alive. With our teammates, we’re just becoming closer and closer. A lot of players don’t know each other yet, we’re still finding our rhythm so I think by next week we’ll be ready to go.”
The promoted team’s next game is against Manhattan Celtic on Saturday. Celtic is only above Doxa in the table because of a better goal difference as they own the same amount of points, 12. Last time the two sides met, Manhattan blanked the Greek-based club 3-0.
After Celtic, Doxa has two tough matches in their fight out of the dropzone, one against second placed NY Pancyprian Freedoms on May 14th and the other one against first placed Lansdowne on May 20th.