NY Greek Americans defensive midfielder Shaun Foster on the ball as Jonathan Okafor raises his hands behind him. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Sept. 11th, 2017
Champions NY Greek Americans earned a hard-fought point against Cedar Stars Academy, thanks to Stephen Roche’s 90th minute spot kick on Sunday night at the Metropolitan Oval.
The Greeks played the last 24 minutes of the game with nine men as Shaun Foster was red-carded for a high kick on Paul Nittoli just two minutes after Colin Murphy’s second yellow card for talking to the referee.
Although he left the game early with a red card, it was Foster who netted the opener as he headed Jimmy Nealis’ free-kick past CSA’s keeper Bryan Lopez in the 14th minute.
The Stars responded with a goal of their own two minutes later when Paul Nitolli blasted Christopher Katona’s throw-in to the left corner of the net from inside the box.
The Greeks reestablished their lead in the 23rd minute. Patrick Figueiredo pushed a low diagonal pass to Murphy, who took a couple of touches in the box before placing a shot to the bottom left corner of the net.
Colin Murphy netted NY Greek Americans' second goal. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Cedar Stars put themselves back on level terms with NYGA through a grave mistake from keeper Andrea-Roberto Pellegrini after the break. Pellegrini leapt out of his line to intercept Sikele ‘Kele’ Sylvester’s corner kick but unfortunately hit the ball in his own net in the 62nd minute.
The Greeks were penalized with two red cards shortly after CSA’s leveler. The first one was a second yellow card handed to Murphy for talking to the referee after receiving a yellow card. And the second one was for Foster’s high kick on Paul Nittoli on a 50-50 in the 66th minute.
Cedar went ahead of NYGA for the first time in the game with three minutes to go when Naser Hani cannoned Josue Ortiz’s low cross high in the middle of the net from outside the 18.
NY Greeks were granted a penalty kick the following minute for a hand ball on Anthony Ferrer in the box.
Roche was cool and confident to convert the penalty, picking the low left corner of the net. Lopez dove the right way but was too slow to the ball.
Players’ voice: Stephen Roche (game-tying penalty kick)
NY Greek Americans star playmaker, Stephen Roche, expressed that the 3-3 draw was a good result to open the season with.
“It’s a big result to start the season,” Roche said. “We keep the unbeaten run that we started last Christmas; we want to keep that going as well.”
The Greeks haven’t lost a league-game since Nov. 6th, 2016, which amounts to 14 games.
Stephen Roche celebrating a goal against NY Athletic Club last season. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Roche converted a 90th minute penalty kick game-tying goal.
“Happy to keep scoring goals,” the Irishman said. “That’s my job here, I got to try to score every game for the team. Obviously it gets us the results as well so I’m always happy to chip in with a goal."
NY Greeks were penalized with two red cards: a second yellow for Murphy for talking to the referee and a straight red for Foster for a high kick on a 50-50.
“I think a little bit harsh,” Roche said when asked about the referee’s decision. “I don’t want to comment on the referee I might get myself in trouble but I think a little bit harsh. Hopefully once everything cools down nothing too drastic happens.”
Four key notes
1. NY Greeks’ red scorers: Two of NYGA’s scorers, Foster and Murphy, were ejected out of the game with red cards.
2. Roche always stars against Cedar Stars: Roche scored five goals in his last two games against Oliver Papraniku’s men. He netted four times against them prior to Sunday’s game on April 2nd, 2017.
3. That’s why they signed them: Cedar Stars new signings Christopher Katona, Kele Sylvester and Naser Hani were influential in the club’s first point of the season. Katona assisted the team’s first goal, Kele hit the corner kick on the second one and Hani scored the last one.
4. NY Greeks stay unbeaten in 14 games: Roche’s 90th minute spot kick secured a 14-game non-losing streak for NYGA.