On a cold November evening , the New York Greek American Atlas, four-time US Open Cup winners, reclaimed their Eastern New York title with a 4-0 win over 3-time Open Cup champion New York Pancyprian Freedoms. It was their second meeting in nine days, and it took place at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University. The Greeks won the last meeting in league play 2-0 and with the win in the championship game, they have booked a place in next spring’s USASA Region I tournament, with a spot in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on the line.
Keith Detelj scored a pair of goals for the Greeks who, with the win, earn their first Eastern NY Open Cup title since 2007, breaking a string of four straight by the Freedoms.
Play became chippy right from the kick off, as it was obvious that these two shared a fierce rivalry. Throughout the first 20 minutes of the contest, the teams had an equal share of possession, with both teams fighting through the midfield, hoping to take a much-wanted lead.
The Pancyprian Freedoms had the first real scoring opportunity when Stefan Dimitrov hit a low cross sent in by Anastasios Polydefkis wide off the mark.
It was the Greek AA who made the first breakthrough about nearly midway through the half. A cross from the left flank found it’s way to Keith Detelj who put it past Freedoms keeper Chad Calderone and gave put the Greek Americans up 1-0 after 22 minutes.
Neither keeper saw much action after Detelj’s goal, but the midfield battle that had begun at the start of the game continued until the ref blew the whistle for halftime, no yellow cards given, though there were plenty of opportunities.
The second half of the contest picked up right where it left off for Greek AA. They held a majority of the possession and created more goal scoring opportunities by consistently winning the ball in the midfield. The game’s first yellow card finally came in the 56th minute, as midfielder John Koutsoundis came in hard on one of the Greek AA players. The Greeks continued to press forward, trying to increase their one-goal lead and they were rewarded. A handball in the box led to a penalty kick and Ben Arikian stepped up to the spot and beat Calderone to the right, as the keeper dove the opposite way to make it 2-0 in the 62nd minute.
Greek AA didn’t have to wait long for their next goal, as Detelj fought off two Freedoms defenders to slot home his second of the night and the third for the Greeks in the 64th minute. Shortly afterward, the Greeks received their first yellow card of the night, as Josh Trott came in with a hard tackle a few yards from the penalty area, but the Greek AA were unable to capitalize.
Down three with a little more than twenty minutes to play, the Freedoms attempted to fight back. In the span of five minutes, Freedoms attacker Julio Cesar Dos Santos struck from about 3 yards from goal, but it was handled by Greek AA keeper Steven Diaz. Dos Santos’ second attempt, a volley from about the same distance as his previous attempt, was also kept out by Diaz with some ease. The Freedoms fought hard in the game’s last minutes, with a header by Dimitrov sent just wide of Diaz’s goal.
The Greeks made the Freedoms pay with a counter attack, with Paul Shaw chipping the ball from a few yards out past Calderone to seal the victory and make it 4-0 Greek AA in the 72nd minute. With that goal came the final whistle, and with it advancement to the USASA Region I tournament. The Greek Americans will continue their quest to return to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time since 2005 as Region I tournament begins in the spring of next year.
“I thought it was a great win tonight, and thought we thoroughly deserved it,” said Michael Todd of the Greek Americans. “We worked incredibly hard, the guys, everyone on the team, especially the guys coming off the bench. I thought we thoroughly deserved the win and I’m glad we’re in the next round of the cup.”
Martinos Kyprianou, coach of the New York Pancyprian Freedoms was disappointed with the result.
“To beat a team like this, you need to be on top of your game. Clearly tonight we were not,” said Kyprianou. “The effort was there, but we had no concentration. We missed scoring opportunities, they scored on 95% of theirs. And that was the difference of the game.”
The new champions took the toughest road to get to the final, having begun play in the opening round, while the Freedoms earned a bye into the championship game as the winners of the Eastern NY Super Cup tournament in September. After defeating the Manhattan Kickers in the first round 4-2, they narrowly escaped the NY Athletic Club in the next round 1-0, and needed an 89th minute goal from Jamal Neptune in the semifinals to knock off the Barnstonworth Rovers by the same score.
2011 Eastern NY Open Cup championship results
(Winner qualifies for the 2012 USASA Region I tournament)
NY Athletic Club 3:1 NY Olympiacos
NY Greek American Atlas 4:2 Manhattan Kickers
Barnstonworth Rovers 2:1 NYC Albania
NY Athletic Club 0:1 NY Greek American Atlas
Semifinal (winner plays NY Pancyprian Freedoms in the championship game)
Barnstonworth Rovers 0:1 NY Greek American Atlas
NY Greek American Atlas 4:0 NY Pancyprian Freedoms
Past Eastern NY Open Cup champions (US Open Cup finish)
2003: Greek American Atlas (Did not qualify)
2004: Greek American Atlas (US Open Cup Round 1)
2005: Greek American Atlas (US Open Cup Round 1)
2006: Pancyprian Freedoms (Did not qualify)
2007: Greek American Atlas (Did not qualify)
2008: Pancyprian Freedoms (US Open Cup Round 1)
2009: Pancyprian Freedoms (Did not qualify)
2010: Pancyprian Freedoms (US Open Cup Round 1)
2011: Pancyprian Freedoms (US Open Cup Round 2)
2012: Greek American Atlas (?)