By Jay Mwamba
New York Athletic Club clinched the 1998-99 Cosmopolitan Soccer League First Division crown last Sunday after beating New York Hungaria, 4-1, in Woodbridge, N.J., on the final day of the most hotly contested championship in recent memory.
The Ronan Downs-coached NYAC ended the season with a 12-3-3 (39 points) record, two points ahead of New York Albanians, whose final opponents, Banatul S.C., forfeited. Shamrock (31) finished fourth.
Downs’s crack side bagged its fourth title in five years with a scintillating first-half display of attacking soccer despite missing several starters.
It was a performance largely inspired by striker Andre Parris, a 23-year-old Princeton alum who spent last year in Europe trying out for such clubs as Ajax Amsterdam, Bayer Leverkusen and England’s Crystal Palace.
Parris struck twice (12th, 17th minutes) after Justin Head (5th) had shot NYAC ahead. Pepper Brill (40th) was the other marksman.
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"It’s a great achievement for us. We’re over the moon," gushed the 46-year-old Downs, who joined the fray after the interval and hit the crossbar.
"That’s how depleted we were," remarked the Dublin native, who also sought out additional players from his reserve side, which had earlier lost by 1-0.
NYAC’s previous CSL title victories were in 1994-95, 1995-96 and 1996-97.
Croatia stay up
New York Croatia, who interrupted NYAC’s dynasty with their improbable championship win last season, managed to avoid relegation with a 2-1 win over S.C. Gjoa in Brooklyn. Vlatko Vuletic (43rd) and Rob Gretton (65th) canceled out Marvin Oliver’s first minute strike for Gjoa.
Paddy O’Sullivan’s mercurial organization was consoled by its second team’s fourth straight First Division reserve title after their Croatia rivals forfeited the reserve fixture. The strong Gjoa side finished (13-3-3, 41 points).
"We’re also playing in the Saunders Cup, which we’ve won three years in
row, so it’s not bad for a small team," O’Sullivan noted.
St. Barnabas’ first team also gave up points to Polonia S.C. without a fight at SUNY-Purchase. They forfeited after failing to raise a team. The Saints’ reserves lost, 6-3, with Tim Yates (two) and Chris Boyne connecting.
Shamrock and Albanians will dispute the Cosmopolitan League Cup final at Woodbridge on June 20. Albanians defeated Polonia, 4-,1 midweek to set up a third and conclusive meeting with Shamrock in the CSL, after two draws this season.
Engli Ferhati, Naum Kove, Zvezdan and Tony Camaj scored for the Albanians, while Mariusz Brulinski had the lone Polonia goal.
Shamrock coach John Guildea, whose side pipped CD Iberia to reach the final, said it would be a 50-50 game.
"We tied both games this season, 1-1 in the Bronx and 2-2 at Downing Stadium after we’d led 2-0," Guildea said.
Guildea, nonetheless, expects his lads to be up for this third showdown after the disappointment of seeing the championship elude them. He’s also banking on a large turnout of supporters to give his side a lift.
Albanian official Joe Shrekli was just as confident. "We have a good shot at winning it," he said.
New York Dinamo and Fairfield/Westchester United both won promotion to the First Division at the weekend, the latter without kicking a ball.
Fairfield (10-2-3, 33) got free points when Clarkstown S.C. forfeited their scheduled clash at Kennedy Field, and then received a major assist from Dinamo, who pummeled their closest pursuers in Div. Two (West) B.W. Poughkeepsie 5-2 at Randalls Island.
For Dinamo (11-2-5, 38), the Poughkeepsie result secured them the Div. Two (East) championship, concluding what has been a meteoric rise from the Third Division to the First in three seasons.
Bruce Thomas did most of the damage for Dinamo, dribbling rings around the Poughkeepsie defense en route to a hat-trick (10th, 25th, 80th). Mured Ibrahimov added two goals (40th, 60th penalty).
"He was unstoppable," Dinamo player/coach Kristo Curanovic said of the powerful Thomas.
"It will be a lot of fun playing in the First Division with teams such as Albanians," added Curanovic, whose side comprises mostly ethnic Albanians from the Balkans.