By Jay Mwamba
Chilean-born Londoner Ray Elsesser put Shamrock S.C. in line for their first ever piece of silverware in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League with an injury-time goal against CD Iberia last Sunday that ushered the Queens side into the 1999 League Cup final.
Elsesser, a second-half substitute for Mick McCarthy, rifled in a powerful shot into the roof of the net after 91 minutes of tense action at Downing Stadium.
The historic goal earned Shamrock a 1-0 victory and a shot at the prestigious League Cup next month against the winners between New York Albanians and Polonia S.C., who upset S.C. Gjoa, 2-1, in the quarterfinals last week.
"They caused us problems and I’m very happy at winning 1-0," Shamrock coach John Guildea said after the semifinal. "It was a tight, competitive game."
Said Iberia manager Raf’l San Martin, whose heart skipped a beat when forward Ruben Flores had a shot cleared off the line near the end: "We came up short. It was a big game for both teams."
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Shamrocks missed several chances in the first half and might have gone in behind but for some excellent goalkeeping by Kevin McPartland. The second period was just as frustrating as the first. The excellent work of the back four told the faithful that Iberia wouldn’t be scoring. But at the other end chances fell to Cummins, Thunder and Patrick Geraghty, the former Bray Wanderers player who would probably have been playing in the FAI Cup final had he not come over to Hofstra on scholarship. But all went abegging. The chances were created in the main by the forays of Johann Lannon and Billy Henderson.
Enter Elsesser, who has been plagued with injury this year. He missed narrowly just after he came on, but with a minute left, Geraghty won the ball on the left. After creating some space with clever footwork, his pinpoint cross found Elsesser free in the six yard box. Elsesser controlled before coolly slotting home. The 10-minute overtime allowed by the referee failed to bring another score and the Rocks go through for another possible match-up against the Albanians.
Both goalies were at their best, pulling off a number of breathtaking saves. "They could have scored a few goals if it wasn’t for Kevin McPartland, and we could have scored five or six," coach Guildea noted.
For McPartland it was his third shutout in the League Cup. Shamrock, who’ve yet to concede a goal in the competition, blanked out Ripensia-Romania "A," 3-0, in the quarterfinals and New York Wanderers 4-0 in the second round.
Any Shamrock hopes of fellow Irish side St. Barnabas giving them a hand in their First Division title race with leaders Albanians dissipated quickly at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx where the home team racked up four first-half goals en route to a 6-2 romp.
Ex-Saint Tony Camaj showed his ruthless scoring streak against his old side with a killer hat trick (8th, 30th, 36th). Engli Ferhati added a brace (13th, 55th), and stopper Naum Kove (85th) one.
"We barely had a team," said former coach Tom Whitty, one of the Saints’ marksmen (15th). Mick Hennessey (60th) bagged the other goal.
Albanians, whose reserves lost 2-0, opened up a three-point edge over Shamrock (31), who dropped to fourth place. But Shamrock have a game in hand.
New York Hungaria (34) hammered Banatul, 4-1, at the Metropolitan Oval to hold onto second position. James Bozgo (3rd), Joe Tasko (17th, 39th penalties) and Tomasz Kovacs (83rd) scored. Banatul took the reserve meeting 3-0.
Ronan Downs’ New York Athletic Club kept their winning form going with a 6-1 rout over Polonia S.C. at Travers Island to improve to 10-3-3 (33 points), a week ahead of their make-or-break championship clash with Shamrock.
NYAC broke the game open in the second half, with Ken Duck (55th penalty), Glenn Livingston (60th), Justin Head (70th) and Chris Mitchell (78th, 82nd) all finding the mark.
Duck had earlier banged in NYAC’s ice-breaker (5th) from the penalty spot, which was quickly canceled out by Polonia’s Michael Siwiec (8th).
"It’s in our hands," Downs said of NYAC title prospects now. "We have two games left, starting next Sunday with the ‘Game of Games’ against Shamrock."
NYAC took the reserve fixture against Polonia 4-1.
Dominic Gautier (2nd), Giovanni Zelaya (65th, 85th) and Shuber Naranjo (88th) combined to post a rare win for second-from-the-bottom B.W. Gottschee (3-12-2, 11 pts.) against a Gjoa team that had a brace from Randi Guerra (7th, 15th). The 4-2 triumph in Brooklyn was only Gottschee’s third of the season.
For Gjoa, whose reserves prevailed 2-1, the loss climaxed a miserable week for manager Paddy O’Sullivan. His side’s eviction from the U.S. Men’s Amateur Cup on May 9 was followed by the 2-1 defeat by Polonia in the League Cup.
Mirsad Huseinovic had Gjoa’s response to strikes by Polonia’s Robert Brozyna and Dyninski Mariusz.
Murphy streak grows
Sean Murphy extended his scoring run to seven goals in four matches with a brace in B.W. Poughkeepsie’s 7-0 blowout win over Homenetmen of New York at Germania Field. Kevin Longacre and Josh Thomas also had two goals apiece, while Keith Fowler weighed in with one.
Poughkeepsie remained second in Div. Two (West), three points behind Fairfield/Westchester United (30), who boosted their promotion hopes with a 3-2 come-back victory over New York Wanderers. Gary McGennis (65th, 83rd) and Mark Watson (71st) connected after Wanderers had led 2-0 through Steve Anderson and Ian Lirenman. The reserve game finished goalless.
Also in the West, Bergen Kickers succumbed 3-2 to Clarkstown S.C. at Overpeck County Park. Gustavo Palomino and Giovanni Battaglia were on target for Bergen, whose reserves slipped 1-0.
Vicine Prado and Andreas Doczy each had two goals in S.C. Eintracht’s 4-0 romp over Nag’s Head United. Nag’s second team lost 2-0.
At McCarran Park, Ukrainian S.C. and Barnstonworth Rovers produced a 2-2 draw, after the former’s reserves had run off 2-0 victors. Herve Bertrand and Joseph Peterson scored for Ukrainian, while David Brooks and Schivaun replied for Rovers.
Ripensia-Romania "A," beaten 3-0 by Shamrock in the League Cup quarterfinals a week earlier, vented their ire on another Irish side in the league at the weekend.
They hammered Third Division St. Barnabas, 5-3, at Randalls Island on goals by Sebastian Lazar (47th), Michael Gheorgescu (50th), Adrian Ionete (60th, 63rd [penalty]), and Olimpiu Roman (70th).
In the other Third Division match at the weekend, Gonzalo Fuentes, Demetrio Duran and Ansberto Juarez connected for Clarkstown in their 3-1 win over Brooklyn Stars. Serhan Oral had Brooklyn’s consolation goal.
Father and son act
Rory Finn, G.H. Metros’ Dundalk-born coach, joined his son Rory Jr. on the field for the last 20 minutes of the Over-30 side’s impressive 3-0 decision over Serbia at the Metropolitan Oval.
Steve Bodden, however, took the laurels after striking twice (30th, 75th) and winning the penalty from which Gyula Hegyi (44th) bagged Metros’ second goal.
Rory Jr., who’s 32, had a hand in Bodden’s first effort, while 60-year-old Paul Weichselbaumer delivered the inch-perfect cross from which the striker headed in Metros’ third.
Metros (28) remained a point behind East front-runners New York Greek-American/Atlas, who edged New York Athletic Club, 2-1, courtesy of a late explosion by Jose Luis Leva (80th) and Costas Tsirkas (82nd). Bill Saporito (91st) countered for the NYAC vets.
And in a match between the bottom sides from the East and the West, Banatul bested the latter’s S.C. Eintracht, 1-0, on Vasile Nastu’s goal.