The Athletic Activities of the Cyprus Federation of America

Jay Mwamba

New York State’s leading soccer silverware, is back in familiar hands after Pancyprian Freedoms hammered United FC 4-0 at Tibbetts Brook Park last Sunday to claim the Dr. Manning Cup for the seventh time.

In other State finals at Tibbetts, Matt Geswell’s last gasp effort against Lansdowne Bhoys handed Central Park Rangers an historic win in the D’Arpino Cup, while Manhattan Kickers, the only CSL side to go that far, were pipped 2-1 by upstate Germania Poughkeepsie on their return to the Marth Cup.

After the drama and heartbreak of last season’s 4-3 loss to Mineola Portuguese that ended their four-year hold on the Manning Cup, this year’s final was a relative walk in the park for Pancyprian.

It was over as a contest before half time, thanks to goals by Chelsea, Taso Polydefkis and Chris Zisimatos, the latter from a penalty [40th].

On resumption, Tommy Vlahos volleyed in a cross from the edge of the box to seal it.

“We were by far the better team and had ball possession the entire game,” said Martinos Kyprianou. “We showed that we wanted it more.”

This was Pancyprian’s seventh straight appearance in the State final since 2006 and their fifth victory during that magnificent run. In addition to ’06 they triumphed in ’07, ’08 and ’10. Two previous wins came before 2005.

To reach the 2012 final, the Greek-Cypriots beat Integral 4-1, Istria 3-0 and Hellenic archrivals New York Greek-American/Atlas 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 tie in regulation.

Pancyprian’s victory on Sunday also avenged a 5-2 mauling by First Division newcomers United in a league much last fall.

United’s 4-0 drubbing was a humbling conclusion to what was otherwise an eye-catching rookie campaign. Alex Zaretser’s side was the surprise package in the top flight after their promotion from the second tier.

In addition to trouncing Pancyprian in the league, other famous scalps they claimed during the season include Central Park Rangers and Barnstonworth Rovers’, 5-1 and 2-1, respectively, both in the Manning Cup.

United also had wins over Brooklyn Friends [3-1] in the first round and Polonia who were thrashed 5-0 in the semi-finals.

There were mere seconds remaining on the clock in the D’Arpino final between the CPR reserves and Lansdowne Bhoys’ second units when Matt Geswell struck. He fired in a ball from Andres Padilla to snatch a 2-1 victory that earned CPR its first ever State cup and a second trophy in seven days.

CPR had beaten First Division-bound Hoboken FC by the same scoreline at Icahn Stadium the previous week to scoop the revived League Cup.

Unlike in that final when they trailed, Rangers led Lansdowne through Brazilian Dan Caccero but conceded a penalty after the interval that Mike Fernandez converted.

“We had gone one up in the first half, dominating much of the possession,” noted CPR manager Yuval Lion, adding that his side continued to battle hard after Fernandez’ equalizer and “deservedly grabbed the winner in the last minute to avoid penalties.”

“It was a well contested and exciting match by two committed teams,” observed Lion, who critiqued the officiating.

Still, he hailed CPR’s first State cup success and called it and the League Cup a fine haul for the season.

Lansdowne coach Kevin Grogan was gracious in defeat. “It was tough but no complaints, CPR were the better team on the day,” he conceded. “We’re not quite there. We’ll keep on building.”

Two years ago, Manhattan Kickers’ Over-30 side became the first CSL club to reach the final of the Fritz Marth Cup, named for the late CSL stalwart. They lost 4-2 to Long Island powerhouse South Baisley.

Kickers’ Over-30s returned to the final last Sunday against Germania Poughkeepsie but succumbed 2-1.

The upstate visitors inflicted some early damage to go up 2-0. Kickers rallied back late and forced an own goal [75th] but in the end went down fighting.

Inspired by the influential Paul Cowler, who scored four in the 7-1 quarterfinal bashing of Pele Masters, they hit the crossbar and came close on several occasions. Cowler had a chance to tie it in the 80th minute on a breakaway but it was not to be.

“The team battled hard in the heat and almost had enough in the tank to make the dramatic comeback and even up the score but ran out of time,” said Kicker manager Mike Fitzgerald.

At the other end, Fitzgerald had kudos for goalkeeper Gandesha Raj for keeping Germania within distance.

Kickers run the gauntlet to make it to the final. They plowed through Barnstonworth Old Boys [3-0], Queens Liberty United [5-0], FC Partizani [4-2], Pele [7-1] and Oceanside 5-4 on penalties in that order.