By Jay Mwamba
Defending champions Lansdowne Bhoys will have to get past resurgent New York Greek Americans [NYGA] in the playoffs if they are to become the first club in more than half a century to win four straight CSL championships.
Lansdowne scored back-to-back victories over Shamrock and Doxa FC to clinch their sixth consecutive division title. The Greek Americans, meanwhile, completed a remarkable 11-match unbeaten run with a 1-1 tie away to Hellenic rivals Pancyprian Freedoms.
And with hitherto fourth place Cedar Stars Academy dramatically crashing 4-0 to First Division runners-up Shamrock, NYGA went from relegation candidates last November to nicking the fourth and final playoff berth.
The other CSL First Division playoff pits the Shamrocks against seven-time champs Pancyprian.
NY Hungaria, CSL kings from 1959 to 1962, were the last club to win four consecutive First Division league titles.
The Yonkers Irish made it six division titles in a row with a 1-0 midweek decision over the Rocks at Verrazano Sports Complex.
Ibrahim Diaby, a winter signing from Shamrock, effectively ended his former side’s hopes of a first ever division title in the top flight with a 20-yard strike [55th]. Substitute Marcos Nunez had the assist.
It was Lansdowne’s fourth successive league win over their Irish rivals since the latter’s return to the CSL upper echelon two years ago. They meet again in the Manning State Cup final clash on June 4.
“Having won the divisional title on the previous five occasions, the club really wanted it this year as it was one division [one zone],” said Lansdowne president William McGrory. “It has been hard work but I believe it’s well deserved and payment for all the hard work put in by head coach Austin Friel, the players and the club’s hard working board.”
Three days later, Lansdowne fought back from two down to edge Doxa 4-3.
Doxa capitalized on Lansdowne’s lack of cohesion to lead 2-0 through the prolific Kurt Cameron and Nick Von Egypt. And after Lukas Zarges had pulled one back, Keith Traut made it 3-1. Then the Bhoys got going.
Kalide [70th] cut the deficit from a free kick and then Zarges tied it. Jacques Francois nicked it for the Bhoys with four minutes to spare. Lansdowne finished the regular season with a league best 14-2-2  record.
They now enter the business end of the season with several big games to play. There’s NYGA in the CSL playoff on May 31 or June 1; the Shamrocks in the Manning Cup final on June 4 and U.S Amateur Cup and Werner Fricker U.S. Open Cup Region 1 finals on June 17 and June 18, respectively.
The Amateur Cup decider is against Junior Lone Star and the Fricker final versus Christos FC, both in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
Lansdowne’s second unit, the defending CSL Reserve champions, cruised to a 3-0 victory over Doxa ‘B.’
Player-coach Keith St. Ledger, young Richard Chimiro and Danny Supiro scored.
But like last season, the Bhoys [14-1-3, 43] finished a point behind New York Athletic Club who routed Manhattan Celtics ‘B’ 5-1 on Randalls Island to claim the division title.
Chris Sutherland [two], Peter Lynch, Ben Biron [pen.] and Peter Mehlert tallied for NYAC.
Jamie Tyrell got Celtic’s face-saver.
“I have to say that I didn’t think we were going to able to catch Lansdowne, but we had key wins down the stretch, so credit to our team for staying tough,” said NYAC reserve team boss Bill Saporito.
Since a 3-1 loss to Lansdowne last November left them in dire straits, NYGA have crawled out of relegation waters to contention for a ninth CSL title. A 5-0 wipeout of Zum Schneider last week put them on the cusp of a stunning comeback after strikes by former Bhoy Stephen Roche [two], Adam Marcu, Tyler Botte and an own goal.
The Greeks then had to pray for a minor miracle – a Shamrock victory over a Cedar side while they picked up at least a point against tough foes Pancyprian in their Hellenic derby.
They got it.
Nick Laurent, on his home debut, and Any O’Connell had a brace apiece in the Shamrocks’ 4-0 thrashing of Cedar at St. Michael’s Playground last Saturday.
The next day, NYGA’s Adam Marcu and Adam Himeno of Pancyprian exchanged goals in a 1-1 draw that secured the Greeks a playoff berth at Cedar’s expense.
NYGA’s reserves prevailed 8-1 on a hat trick by Mario Gagliano, Dimitri Antonopoulos’s brace, and a goal apiece by John Famularo, Sebastian Ramirez and George.
Earlier at St. Michael’s, Andrew Scott, Sean O’Neill [two] and Joey Zorbo were on target in the Shamrock reserves’ 4-0 win. They are also playoff-bound against NYAC ‘B.’
KICKERS & RANGERS
No strangers to the top flight, both Manhattan Kickers and Central Park Rangers Whites are both back in the CSL top flight. Both topped their zones in the second tier.
CPR Whites blanked Panatha 4-0 on Randalls Island on goals by Lance Dotzman, Alex Presciutti, Dan Miller [with a brilliant free kick] and Akeem Brooks to win the North title and secure promotion.
Three days later, Jambaar Stills’ superb volley from Dan Miller’s cross earned CPR a 1-1 tie with Brishna. Rangers finished the regular season with an 11-3-2  record and now meet Manhattan Kickers in the Division Two championship match.
Kickers confirmed their return to the First Division after a three-year absence with a 3-1 win over Hoboken FC in their top-of-the-table South clash at Laurel Hill Park.
Cory Chaplin [18th] nodded Hoboken ahead and it would take 51 minutes for Brian Morris to tap in Kickers’ equalizer.
Albi Rexhi fired the visitors ahead [68th], leaving Hoboken transfer Chris Hall to score Kickers’ third goal against his former club. They finished with 12-1-2  stats, five points ahead of Hoboken.
There were two late goals in the curtain raiser. Lee Selby [77th] opened his Hoboken account only for Kickers ‘B’ to equalize two minutes later on Seamus Kelly’s volley.
David Alkasimi [pen.], Chris Munoz and Juan Giron produced New York Ukrainians’ 3-0 defeat of Beyond FC on Randalls Island.
Ukrainians’ reserves eked out a 1-0 decision on Dmitri Jacobs’ goal.
CD Iberia and NYPD FC tied both games 3-3 at Flushing Meadows Park.
“In the first team game Marcello Russo, Robert “Bebeto” Lago and an own goal off a Ivan Hernandez shot earned us the tie,” said Iberia’s David Lago. “We were down 3-1 and came back to tie it.”
Diego Martinez, Steven Lasso and Ugur Kahveci struck for the Cops.
In the reserve game, Javi Mejia [two] and Javi “Perce” Beiro connected for Iberia.
Jacek Lawniczak [two] and Krzysztof Glowala lifted Stal Mielec 3-2 past City International at Bushwick Inlet.
Ryan Hanehan scored a tap-in from a Harper Williams assist for City and then assisted on the second by Hrvoje Brklja
Stal’s reserves won 5-1 courtesy of Waldemar Pyryt [two], Kevin Janeczko, Krystian Boguski and Artur Zych.
Elsewhere in the Second Division, CPR Reds edged FC Japan 4-3, thanks to Brad Janes [two], Chris Valentine and Emilio Cordero.
The Reds’ second unit run off 8-0 victors, with Hendrik DeRuiter netting a hat trick, Hunter Norte two and James Barbour, Pete Tyson and Ahmed Madbouli one apiece.
Metro Div. One champions-designate Williamsburg International produced another trademark scoring spree to rout Shamrock 1960 6-1 at St. Michael’s Playground. Mark Gallagher and Andreas Moudatsos both had hat-tricks.
Gerald van den Berg, Zach Mikolenko, John Kaddo and Sumeet Patel [two] had assists. Ryan McKinley had the Shamrocks’ consolation.
Ridgewood were the big winners in Metro One, blanking Deportivo Sociedade New York 3-0 on Staten Island.
Ayhan Bekdemir [26th, 60th] and Alex Anton [78th pen.] starred for Ridgewood.
METRO STAR EXPRESS
NYC Metro Stars kept their streak going with a 4-1 romp over Beyond FC in Metro Two for their 11th consecutive victory of the season.
“A real tough game,” said Metro Stars coach Edson Calle. “First half 0-0 but in the second half we put more pressure and we got the results.”
Skipper Rodolfo Oliveira scored from a free kick [55th], Mamadou Diombera [60th] added a second, Landry Sanon [78th] the third and Cristhian Sabando [88th] the fourth.
The club [11-5, 33] whose losses came in its first five games, are now assured of finishing second behind runaway West champs BW Gottschee.
“This is our dress rehearsal for the championship match against Mr. Dennehy’s FC, let’s establish our game early,” acting BW Gottschee head coach John Ryding implored his lads before their rubber match with Barnstonworth Rovers on Monday night.
The newly minted Metro Two champs did not disappoint, goring Rovers 9-1 on Randalls Island, in their third meeting this season [a league win and cup loss for BW].
Greg Davis [three], Chris Kilcarr, Christian Parades [two], Edgar Carpio, captain Dion “CoCo” Amvrosiatos and Bayron Tenezaca destroyed Rovers.
It was Gottschee’s largest win of the season and Man of the Match honors were split between Davis and Brandon Silva, the latter for his five assists.
“I have never been prouder of the lads showing up on a Monday night and putting in their best performance of the season,” said Ryding, as Gottschee ended the regular season 15-2-1 . They scored 67 goals and conceded
Dennehy’s, the East titlists, improved to 13-1-1  with a 3-1 decision over AO Brooklyn. Daniel Cano, and own goal and Filipe Lobato were the difference.
Paddy McCarry’s Shamrocks Over-30 ended the regular season on a high – bludgeoning Megas Alexandros 7-0 on Randalls Island.
Jonny McGeeney hit a hat trick for the CSL champions, bringing his season tally to 30. Sean Riley, Tayfun Gokmen, Domnick McCartan and Adam Bierman also connected for the Rocks [15-1, 45], who finish seven points clear of second place Manhattan Celtic Legends.
It’s their third division title in the Over-30s’ upper echelon and they continue their quest for a second successive CSL crown [and fourth in seven seasons] against CPR Grays at Randalls on June 4. The winners play either NY Greek Americans or Celtic Legends in the final.
Celtic Legends mauled Hoboken FC 8-1 at Pier 40, with Brian Mazza and John Tanios each registering hat tricks. Simon Kierney and Moshe Shalchon accounted for the other goals.
Manhattan Kickers Premier, who finished third, were also comfortable victors in their season swan song, 3-0 at Brooklyn Gunners’ expense.
Nick Bill and Alex Petrovic gave Kickers a 2-0 half time lead, while goalie Mike Fitzgerald and his defense would keep the Gunners off the board after some threatening scoring opportunities.
Colin O’Banion [70th] sealed it.
“[A] strong finish to the regular season with a solid win, inspite of only having 11 players for most of the match,” remarked Fitzgerald.
Errol McFarlane [two] and an own goal led champions Cozmoz FC past Doxa FC 3-2.
There was also an own goal and a Peter Maris strike in SC Eintracht’s 5-2 slump to Hoboken FC 1912.
And in the Rovers derby on Randalls Island, Barnstonworth Rovers Veterans crashed 4-0 to Barnstonworth Rovers Old Boys.
Jim Beck, Jeff Alexander, Andrew Miller and Andy Bay connected.
“A nice end of season Rovers derby,” summed up the victorious Dave Sheeran.