Doxa FC play Lansdowne Yonkers FC in early December 2019 (Credit: Doxa FC)
In a series of remake games, the fall season came to a close over the past two weeks. The New York Pancyprian Freedoms continued to pile on wins, bagging their sixth in a row, to keep pace in the top spot hunt. Meanwhile Lansdowne Yonkers FC ran into a roadblock in the second leg of their back-to-back with Doxa FC. Overall, the table at the break is not what some people would expect after the way some teams began the 2019 season.
Read more below:
Wednesday, December 4
New York Athletic Club v. New York Pancyprian Freedoms (0-3)
Both the New York Athletic Club and the New York Pancyprian Freedoms came into their match with a win-streak and hopes to continue momentum. In the end, the defending champions dominated the game and left Randalls Island with three points.
James Thristino scored all three of the Freedoms goals during the contest, jumping him into the Top 5 for most goals scored this season in league play with 6. Charlie Ledula assisted on two of those goals while Bradley Nestor aided on the third. This was the second time this season that the Freedoms scored three goals on Athletic Club after the team left Belson Stadium with a 3-1 win back in October.
While NYAC’s win streak ends at 3 games, the team still leaves the fall with 12 points and in seventh place on the table. It has hit a good balance between spacing itself away from the relegation zone while also keeping itself competitive in the middle of the pack.
Sunday, December 8
Doxa FC v. Lansdowne Yonkers FC (1-0)
After leaving Yonkers last week with a loss, Doxa FC returned the favor on their home ground and beat the then-league leading Lansdowne Yonkers FC, 1-0, to close out the fall season.
The cold night in New Rochelle both teams had issues finding good looks at goal. In the final minute of the first half, George Najim was able to convert for Doxa off a free kick into the far lower corner which was the only goal his team needed. Coach Paul Grafas said afterwards that both teams played defense hard and he was proud of his player’s work.
“We worked very hard from last season and (we) expect us to be where we're at,” Grafas said.
“Respect our opponent very much for raising the level of play in this league, and that makes us always work harder and approach each game physically and tactically ready... our position in the table will just make us work even harder.”
Lansdowne attempted to work back into the match as head coach Sean Kelly subbed in fresh feet. His team began to press the ball more and the top scorers started to get more chances but nothing could find the back of the net.
“At the other end Doxa were quick to counter when given the opportunity but (Johan) Mauritzan and (Abdoukarim “Kabo” Danso) snuffed out any real threats. Congrats to Doxa on the victory, always a tough opponent.”
Doxa ends the fall in third place behind both Lansdowne and the New York Pancyprian Freedoms.
Sunday, December 15
Sporting SC v. NY Pancyprian Freedoms (1-7)
In the final CSL game of 2019, the New York Pancyprian Freedoms completed their turnaround and end the fall in first place. The defending champions dominated Sporting SC on Sunday night as five separate players stepped up to score.
Sporting head coach Ed Romero said afterwards that his team still has a lot to learn if it wants to stay in Division 1.
“We just didn’t show up,” Romero said. “Pancyprians showed us what a quality team in the CSL D1 plays like. It has been a difficult season adapting into this division. We are looking forward to the winter break.”
His team struggled to hold back the Pancyprian offense early on. The away side scored five goals in the first 45 minutes, with Open Cup hero Charlie Ledula and Bradley Nestor scoring two each. Sporting was able to claw one back when Tavoy Morgan cut the lead to 3-1 but a response by Andreas Chronis nullified that as the teams went into halftime.
While things slowed down after that it did not get better for the 9th place Sporting. John-Brown Owen Jr. and Bernd Schluter both added their names to the scoresheet for the Freedoms as Sporting failed to get any real chances on net.
“From the get go, we controlled the game,” Freedoms technical director Panayiotis Onisiforou said after the game. “We dominated but the team was flying high from the amateur cup and we carried over the form to this game. Teams tend to get sloppy at the end of fall season but we knew if we slept on Sporting they could punish us. We wanted to finish fall season strong and we did.”
NYPF enters the holiday break with 23 points, tied for the most with Lansdowne Yonkers FC but above them on tie-breakers, while Sporting sits above last place New York Shamrocks SC with both teams at 7 points.
Finally, on December 10th two CSL clubs met in the Eastern New York State Soccer Association (ENYSSA) Amateur Cup Final to determine which one heads into the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) Region 1 portion of the tournament. The two teams battling for the trophy were the New York Pancyprian Freedoms and the 2017 National Champion Lansdowne Yonkers FC.
The Freedoms came away with the win, 1-0, on a night filled with awful weather. This came less than a month from its U.S. Open Cup qualifier that was also affected by weather which the team also won 1-0. Bradley Nestor put his team in front with a solo effort and the New York defense held strong through 90 minutes. In the end Lansdowne struggled to get a convincing chance on net.
Now in the regional section, the Freedoms can head into the break with a ton of positives as they lead the league, are qualified for the U.S. Open Cup, and are in the running for another National Title which would qualify them for the 2021 USOC as well.