NY Pancyprian Freedoms players celebrating a penalty shootout win versus Shamrocks two seasons ago. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
By Ralph 'Onz' Chery
Oct. 21st, 2018
NY Pancyprian Freedoms topped Jackson Lions 3-1 in penalties after a stalemate in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Sunday night away from home at Jackson Justice Complex.
Hector Guerrero racked two saves in the penalty shootout to usher NY Pancyprians to the victory. Guerrero was happy his side came out on top after they were unfortunate not to hit the net when they registered 12 shots on target.
“Aw, it’s amazing [to be in the next round],” the Mexican keeper said. “We struggled the whole game, we were pushing, we dominated. The other team had a really good defensive core. Their keeper made some really good saves. I’m glad to be in the next round. Hopefully we can keep going round after round. We just have to keep working.”
The Freedoms’ top scorer from last season Adam Himeno attempted to put his side on top early with a couple of headers. Himeno’s first header from Andreas Chronis’ cross flew over the bar in the fifth minute before opposite keeper Charles Cunliffe saved his second header from Jeff Matteo’s cross in the ninth minute.
Later in the 24thminute the Lions had a clear chance on goal as David Nigro hit an uncontested shot from the box, fortunately for NY Pancyprians, Nigro’s shot deflected off a defender.
Matteo almost gave the Cypriot team the lead in the 67thminute with what would’ve been one of his best goals for the club. The former MLS player weaved through a sea of Lions players before steering a shot on frame. Cunliffe denied Matteo from scoring a highlight reel goal as he palmed the midfielder’s shot.
Eight minutes later Himeno headed a shot off the left post.
The former St. John’s midfielder came close to scoring the opener again in the 84thminute as he rounded keeper Cunliffe but saw his shot saved by ex-MLS defender Matthew Jeffery.
The CSL club was the most dangerous team in extra-time also. Captain Georgi Spanos curled a voluptuous shot out of the 18 just inches past the top left corner of the net in the 112thminute.
The following minute Jordan Shankle scooped keeper Cunliffe’s rebound over the net.
Keeper Guerrero didn’t have to do much during the regular 90 but was ready when his side needed him in extra-time. Guerrero performed an unreal save in the 115thminute as he fully stretched on his right to block Zachary Bond shot that was on its way to the bottom corner of the net.
Andreas Andreou was red-carded for an accidental two-footed tackle seconds later but the Freedoms stayed compact in the remaining five minutes to send the game to overtime
Guerrero saved the first PK of the night, diving to the left corner of the goal to save Ryan Bailey’s shot.
The 26-year-old keeper noted how crucial it is to save your opponents’ first spot kick.
“I’m always confident on my PKs, I work a lot on it. It gives confidence to my teammates once the first one is saved so it’s always a good feeling, you transmit that energy to your teammates, which is more important so they’re less nervous.”
The Lions missed their second penalty also as Bryant Avalos banged his penalty off the bar.
NY Pancyprians netted their first two PKs through Matteo and Andreas Iosifidis respectively.
On the third spot kick, Zachary Bond scored Jackson’s first PK while James ‘Jimmy’ Nealis missed the Freedoms’ first penalty as Cunliffe dove on his right to block his hit.
Guerrero saved the Jersey club’s next PK, falling on his right to block Benjamin Vergara’s effort.
Former Lyon U-19 captain Simon Tchoukriel converted the three-time Open Cup champions’ fourth PK to send his side to the next round of the qualifiers, picking the right corner of the net.
The third round of the Open Cup qualifiers will be played on Nov. 17-18. The Freedoms’ opponents are to be announced.
1. Ryan Bailey (saved)
2. Bryant Avalos (hit the crossbar)
3. Zachary Bond (scored)
4. Benjamin Vergara (saved)
NY Pancyprian Freedoms:
1. Jeff Matteo (scored)
2. Andreas Iosifidis (scored)
3. James ‘Jimmy’ Nealis (saved)
4. Simon Tchoukriel (scored)
Shots (on target): 7 (2)
Saves: 9—keeper Charles Cunliffe
Yellow cards: 2—Bryant Avalos, Matthew Fryc
Red cards: 0
Corner kicks: 6
NY Pancyprian Freedoms
Shots (on target): 27 (12)
Saves: 9—keeper Hector Guerrero
Yellow cards: 1 (Panayiotis Onisiforou)
Red cards: 1 (Andreas Andreou)
Corner kicks: 8
VIDEO OF THE FULL GAME IS AVAILABLE HERE: https://mycujoo.tv/video/us-soccer-federation?id=27738