Shamrocks fullback Dan Giorgi and Lansdowne Yonkers FC left back Karim Russell attempting to outmuscle each other for the ball. Hess Boys Photography
By Ralph 'Onz' Chery
Jan. 3rd, 2019
So far, the first half of the CSL First Division season has been a heck of a rollercoaster ride. At one point, defending Champions Lansdowne Yonkers FC, were at the bottom of the standings. The First Division also welcomed 7 Cosmos players, including their captain Daniel Szetela. The league also welcomed two international strikers - Shavon John-Brown (NY Pancyprian Freedoms) from Grenada and Aaron Dennis (Lansdowne Yonkers FC) from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Lastly, former Lansdowne coach Austin Friel switched sides now coaching for the Irish club’s rivals - Cedar Stars Academy.
Head spinning yet?
Let us now take a look at the standings after this CSL D1 Rollercoaster Ride!
CSL D1 Standings
NY Pancyprian Freedoms are top of the table with a 9W-0L-1T record. The Cypriot club is the best defensive team, allowing just 10 goals in as many matches. They also boast the second best team offense with 36 goals.
Interesting Fact: The Freedoms only blemish this season was a draw against last place Central Park Rangers Whites.
The Freedoms have won all of their matches versus the top teams. They edged Cedar Stars 4-3, NY Greek Americans 3-2, and blanketed both NY Shamrocks SC and Lansdowne Yonkers FC 2-0. When asked what was behind their success, Pancyprians defender and technical director Panayiotis Onisiforou, pointed out their summer signings and the commitment of their board who he refers to as the "backbone" of their club.
“We are a well respected club within amateur soccer and our board pour in hours of their day for the club. I am a firm believer that we had a successful fall season ‘cause of the additions of Shavon, Borrajo, Nealis and Hector. They boosted the excellent core of players we had from the previous season.”
John-Brown tallied eight league-goals and seven assists. NY Cosmos B right back Jonathan Borrajo racked six assists and four goals. Cosmos B keeper Hector Guerrero helped the club concede the lowest goal ratio around the league.
Cedar Stars Academy, currently in second place, are just three points behind NY Pancyprians and hold a 8W-1L-1T record. Their only loss came against the Freedoms and their draw (1-1) against NY Greek Americans.
The team’s captain Christopher Katona shared his thoughts on finishing out the year in second place. It wasn't quite where the club had hoped they would be.
“The fall season we fell short of our expectations. We look forward to getting back on track in the second half and especially in the National Amateur Cup regional stages.”
Cedar Stars Academy captain Christopher Katona in action with the club's sister team F.C. Motown.
Right behind Cedar Stars are NY Shamrocks SC. They ended the Fall season in third place and 7 points behind Cedar Stars Academy. They hold a 6W-4L-0T record. Striker Kurt Cameron leads the team in goals, scoring six. Left back Dan Giorgi is the second top scorer with five goals. Kwesi Mills-Odoi also played a phenomenal Fall season as he notched a team best of four assistss and was on target three times.
Interesting Fact: Dan Giorgi has scored four of his five goals from the PK spot.
Lansdowne Yonkers FC rounds up the top 4 CSL D1 teams. They sit 3 points behind their fellow Irish club brothers - NY Shamrocks. Although their season began with four consecutive losses, the reigning champions were able to recover by winning 4 of their last 6 games. Summer signing Jack Doherty was their top player, finding the net four times and assisted his teammates on three occasions.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Qualifiers
The only two CSL clubs who participated in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifiers were NY Pancyprians and Lansdowne Yonkers FC. The Freedoms eventually lost in the third round of play against Westchester Predators. Lansdowne bowed out in the first round.
In their road to the third round, Stratis Mastrokyriakos’ men blanked Lansdowne, 4-0, in the opening round. The Queens based club then outlasted Jackson Lions, 3-1, in penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw. Guerrero bagged two saves in the shootout and defender Simon Tchoukriel scored the winning PK.
Interesting Fact: The Freedoms took 27 shots vs Jackson Lions in their Lamar Hunt Round 2 match.
Manning State Cup
Lansdowne Yonkers FC and NY Pancyprians will square up in the Manning State Cup final in the Spring.
To clinch the final, Lansdowne rolled past Kosmos/Olympiacos, of the LISFL, 9-0 in the first round. The second round was tougher matchup for the Bhoys as they inched past CSL D1 team Zum Schneider FC 03, 3-2.
In the semis, the Irish club faced Cedar Stars Academy who they elimiated with goals by Jack Doherty and Ovan Oakley..
Pancyprians, on the other hand, cruised their wat to the finals after seeing off Doxa in the first round 4-0, blowing out Serbia (LISFL) 7-0 in the quarter-finals, and conquering NY Shamrocks 2-0 in the semis. The Cypriot club has yet to concede a goal in the Manning Cup.
Interesting Fact: In the first round, the CSLers outscored their opponents from foreign leagues 31-4.
Cedar Stars won the ENYSSA Fritz Marth National Amateur Cup, getting the best out of Lansdowne, 3-0 in penalties, after a 1-1 draw.
Dawda Bah netted for the Bhoys in the first half before Katona tied it up in the 75th minute.
Cedar Stars blanked Doxa, 3-0, to reach the final meanwhile Lansdowne shimmied past NY Pancyprians in the semis with a 4-3 penalty shootout win after a 90 min stalemate. Cedar Stars will represent Region I in the next stage of the cup that will be played in the spring.
In the ENYSSA Werner Fricker Cup Final, Lansdowne outplayed Cedar Stars for a 2-1 win.
The Yonkers based club found themselves down a goal at halftime. Harri Hawkins tied it up, 1-1, in the 50th minute before Oshane Jenkins guided the club to the title with an 85th minute winner.
The Irish club’s road to the final wasn’t easy either. It started with a nerve wracking 5-4 penalty kick win over NY Athletic club after drawing with them 3-3. Dennis netted the winning spot kick.
In the following round, the Bhoys had to play NY Greek Americans. They downed the Greeks 2-0, before enjoying an easy 5-1 victory against Kosmos (LISFL) in the semis.
Katona was the top player of the first half of the season. The reigning MVP led the league in goals, scoring 16 and in assists, notching seven.
Katona also won the most Player of the Weeks accolade, amassing three. After changing position and playing less minutes than expected, the 28-year-old didn’t anticipate to perform this well.
“This year has been different, playing right outside half in the midfield unable to make a couple of games and not starting some games, I wouldn’t think I’d be individually where I’m at now.”
His teammate, Bardic put up the second-best individual Fall season campaign, collecting 16 goals and two assists.
John-Brown is in third place behind the two CSA players as he tallied eight goals and seven assists.
“We always joke about how its just a matter of time before he leaves us to go pro,” Onisiforou said about the 23-year-old. There’s not much he can’t do. His technical ability is quality. He's the type of player that makes other players better.”
Youngster Shavon John-Brown was placed in third spot in the top performers ranking of the Fall season.
Fall season top performers
1. Cedar Stars Academy midfielder Christopher Katona-- 16 goals, 7 assists
2. Cedar Stars Academy striker Bledi Bardic-- 16 goals, 2 assists
3. NY Pancyprian Freedoms striker Shavon John-Brown-- 8 goals, 7 assists
Most entertaining matches
Eighth placed Doxa S.C.’s unexpected 5-4 win over champions Lansdowne was the match of the Fall season.
The Bhoys scored the opener but Doxa mounted a rally to take them, 2-1, before halftime. The Greek club scored three more goals in the second period to go up, 5-1. Lansdowne pushed for a comeback but came up short, losing the match, 5-4.
Cedar Stars’ game against NY Pancyprians wasn’t a bad one either. It ended 4-3 and in the Freedoms’ favor.
CSA took a 1-0 lead in the third minute. The Freedoms then scored three unanswered goals to go up 3-1 by the 65th minute. The Stars found the net again to pull them back within a goal, 3-2.
But NYPF re-established their two-goal lead bythe 77th minute. The Stars would score again for a 4-3 scoreline.