30th Anniversary – 1st Win

Written by Michael Lewis

The Long Island Rough Riders continue the celebration of their 30th season. The team began kicking the ball around with its men’s and women’s teams in 1994. In another look back at the Rough Riders’ history, we take you back to our very first win against the Jersey Dragons on April 30, 1994.

The third time turned out to be the charm for the Long Island Rough Riders.

In the third game of their inaugural season, the Rough Riders finally recorded a victory – a 1-0 home win over the Jersey Dragons at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on April 30, 1994.

Long Island had dropped their opening two matches of the U.S. Interregional Soccer League season 3-1 at the North Jersey Imperials and 1-0 at home to the Detroit Wheels the previous week – before hitting paydirt before a crowd of 3,125 in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League encounter. 

And that win came in the nick of time as the Rough Riders were to embark on a five-game road trip over the next three weeks.

Had they not won, the team would have kicked off its first season at 0-3.

“I don’t want to think about that,” Rough Riders head coach Alfonso Mondelo told Newsday. “Coming off a win is the way to go.” 

Giovanni Savarese, who went on to star for several Major League Soccer teams (including the NY/NJ MetroStars) and is the current coach of the Portland Timbers, scored the lone goal of the match in the 52nd minute.

Savarese, a Long Island University standout, headed home a cross by Danny Mueller from six yards past goalkeeper Luis Ramos for the lone score of the match to snap a 142-minute scoreless streak at home.

“It was a great ball played by Danny Mueller,” Savarese said. “He found me alone. I ran toward the ball and headed it in.

“We had a nice crowd and we wanted to make them happy.”

Until then, the Rough Riders had a couple of close encounters with Ramos.

Rookie midfielder Chris Armas, an Adelphi University graduate who had scored the Riders’ lone goal of the young season up until that point, volleyed a hard shot at the Dragons net but Ramos made a diving save in the seventh minute.

Armas had another opportunity in the 45th minute as he fired his attempt high.

Cordt Weinstein sent his chance wide left in the 48th minute.

“It was like the last game,” Savarese said. “We just didn’t have the luck. When you start losing, you have more pressure.”

Goalkeeper Chico Mieles backstopped the clean sheet.

Jump forward to the 2023 season, the Rough Riders kick off on May 20th at Mitchel Field Athletic Complex, and hope to secure a win on both the men’s and women’s sides.



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