Cedar Stars’ Lopez becomes the first keeper to win Player of the Week in the modern era

By Ralph 'Onz' Chery

Cedar Stars Academy keeper Bryan Lopez in his days with Paraguayan side Club Sportivo San Lorenzo in 2014.

 

By Ralph "Onz" Chery| @onz_11

April 26th, 2018 

 

*Cedar Stars Academy versus NY Pancyprian Freedoms was played on April 15th but was included in this round's nomination because it was the lone game two weeks ago.

 

Cedar Stars Academy netminder Bryan Lopez is the first goalkeeper to be nominated Player of the Week in the modern era of the CSL, winning the accolade for racking an eighth consecutive clean sheet against NY Pancyprian Freedoms on April 15th with five saves.

“You don’t really see a goalkeeper winning this award as often,” Lopez said about the nomination, “it’s really special, the hard work and the hustle behind games is paying off. It’s not something easy.”

The 29-year-old was the first shot-stopper who held the Freedoms scoreless in the league this season in 12 outings.

Lopez expressed how hard it is to play against the Cypriot club.

“We all know that NY Pancyprians is not an easy team,” he said “we knew that they will have opportunities and shots on goal, so a keeper has to mentality prepare himself before and during the games for those upcoming situation.”

Lopez’s first save was from an uncontested shot from the six-yard box in the 10th minute of the game. The Queens native was well positioned to strongly hold on to the shot—position would later become one of Lopez’s best attribute in the game.

Nine minutes inside the second half, Lopez was at the right place between the stick again and was able to stop a rocket shot from the 18-yard box on a Pancyprians counter attack.  

Later in the 62nd minute, the Freedoms’ star playermaker Daniel Bedoya sent Adam Himeno on goal with a well measured through ball. Lopez charged off his line, Himeno rushed a low shot that whistled just past the right goalpost.

 

NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Adam Himeno came close to breaking Cedar Stars Academy keeper Bryan Lopez's scoreless run. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis 

 

The former Club Sportivo Luqueno (Paraguay’s first division) keeper’s last save was from a Freedoms’ shot from inside the box again nine minutes before time.

Lopez tallied a ninth straight clean sheet in his following match versus Manhattan Kickers last Sunday to continue a record-breaking scoreless run in the modern era of the CSL.

The Paraguayan American shared that the key behind his clean sheet run is to not overthink whether his opponents will net on him or not.  

“It’s something nice as goalkeeper and as a team to maintain clean sheets,” he said. “I believe the secret is to block all negativity and just work hard, do the best and make the minimum mistakes during games and not think about whether the other team will score or not.”

Lopez will look to extend on his scoreless streak against Zum Schneider F.C on Sunday. Zum scored two goals in their last match and are fighting to stay in the first division, sitting four points above the dropzone.

Going back to the previous CSL campaign, Lopez was suspended for most of the season and CSA didn’t qualify for the playoffs. This season, the Stars are on top of the table while carrying a record breaking of 10-consecutive win streak and nine straight clean sheets.

Despite their glorious season so far, Lopez noted that he and his teammates aren’t playing their best soccer unless they go on to win the CSL title.

“I can’t say I’m at my top level but yes I feel pretty good and motivated,” the keeper said.

“I believe we could all say we're at our top level once raising the championship trophy at the end of the season but we still have a long way.  Just have to work harder every game and be humble because we haven’t won nothing yet.”

Last time Cedar Stars won the CSL was in the 1993-94 season when they were named Clarkstown SC.

 

Honorable mention

 

Cedar Stars forward Walter Calderon-- 2 goals vs NY Pancyprian Freedoms

NY Pancyprian Freedoms striker Charlie Ledula-- 2 goals vs NY Athletic Club

Cedar Stars forward Phil Bannister-- 2 goals vs Manhattan Kickers

Cedar Stars midfielder Christopher Katona-- 1 goal, 2 assists vs NY Athletic Club

 

 

 

Past player of the weeks

 

Week 1: Lansdowne Bhoys striker Ovan Oakley-- 2 goals, 1 assist vs Central Park Rangers Whites 

 

Week 2: Cedar Stars Academy striker Paul Nittoli-- 2 goals vs NY Pancyprian Freedoms

 

Week 3: Central Park Rangers Whites midfielder Idy Watt-- 2 goals vs NY Athletic Club

 

Week 4: Manhattan Kickers striker Mahamadou "Remi" Diaby-- 2 goals, 1 assist vs NY Greek Americans

 

Week 5: NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Adam Himeno-- 1 goal, 1 assist vs NY Greek American

 

Week 6: NY Greek Americans left back Joseph Ruesgen-- 2 assists and a clean sheet vs Zum Schneider F.C 03

 

Week 7: Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona-- 3 goals, 3 assists vs Doxa SC

 

Week 8: Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona-- 2 goals, 2 assists vs Zum Schneider F.C

 

Week 9: Cedar Stars Academy attacking midfielder Christopher Katona-- 6 goals vs Manhattan Kickers

 

Week 10: Central Park Rangers Whites midfielder James Greco-- 2 goals vs Doxa SC

 

Midwinter make-up round: NY Greek American midfielder Colin Murphy-- 2 goals vs  NY Athletic Club

 

Week 11: NY Shamrock SC striker James Whyte-- 3 goals vs Zum Schneider FC

 

Week 12: NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Daniel Bedoya-- game-winning goal vs NY Shamrock SC

 

Week 13: NY Pancyprian Freedoms midfielder Adam Himeno-- 3 goals vs NY Greek American

 

Week 14: Lansdowne Bhoys forward Mamadou Guirassy-- hat trick vs Manahattan Kickers

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