Long Island Rough Riders Set to Ignite Season 

Written by Michael Lewis

UNIONDALE, N.Y.- Optimism abounds for Long Island Rough Riders teams, who will make their 2024 season debuts at the Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sunday, May 19. 

The women kick off the doubleheader against the Westchester Flames in a USL W League match at 3:30 p.m. That game will be followed by a USL League Two contest between the men and New Jersey Copa FC at 6 p.m. 

Not surprisingly, both squads’ goals include reaching the postseason and going on from there. 

Given the recent success of the teams, those are reasonable goals. 

“I take every game as an individual game,” Rough Riders women’s head coach Matt Lannon said. “Obviously, the roster fluctuates with who’s available and whatnot. We build a good enough team with D1 top players. The end goal is to win the league. The end goal is to win the Metro.”  

The women reached the playoffs last year, finishing second in the Metropolitan Division with a 10-1-1 record. They were ranked 10th in the USL W League power rankings. 

  Chris Megaloudis, who was named the new men’s coach during the offseason, has similar aspirations. The men also qualified for the postseason with a 12-1-1 record and a second-place standing in the Metropolitan Division. 

“We don’t want to fall off track to where we were the past couple of years—two years ago, obviously making our own final and then making it into the playoffs last year,” Megaloudis said. “Our goal here is to win as many games as possible. Take it game by game.” 


The Rough Riders have a roster of 30 players, and for good reason. 

Lannon realized that he will need a deep roster of talent because not every player will be available for every game. 

“We’re going to field the strongest team every week,” he said. “Practice is going to be tough.. We’ve got to win every game and then see where we end up. 

“I try not to put too much pressure on them. But what we asked for is a full commitment.” 

Key returnees include: 

* Alexi Vegoda, a Plainview, N.Y., resident, is one of the most versatile players on the squad because she can play several positions on the backline or in the midfield. 

* Forward Gianna Paul, who lives in Huntington Station, N.Y., is coming off two impressive seasons as a forward at the University of Alabama. She collected eight goals and five assists in 27 appearances in her freshman season in 2022 and added a team-high eight goals and one assist in 21 contests last fall. 

“She’s unbelievable,” Lannon said. 

Newcomers include Hofstra University senior defender Gabriella Marte, who is a member of the Dominican Republic Women’s National Team; Stony Brook junior goalkeeper Nicolette Pasquarella, a Ronkonkoma, N.Y. native; University of Texas defender-forward Cameron Brooks; and midfielder Maggie Ledof of New Hyde Park, N.Y., who has committed to the University of Indiana. 


In the USL League Two preseason rankings, the Long Island men were rated fifth by the league. The team has reached the playoffs in the last few seasons. That included reaching the final in 2022 and qualifying for the playoffs last season. 

Given that the Rough Riders started training together this week, Megaloudis doesn’t expect things to fall together quickly. 

“You’re just imagining what the team would look like, basically,” he said. “But until you get everybody there and until you start to see a few games, even then it’s difficult,” he said. “We’re just trying to find the right chemistry within the squad and mix and match some players that I think will play well together and enjoy playing around each other.” 

Megaloudis wouldn’t single any one player out, but there is plenty of talent aboard. 

As it has in recent years, Hofstra University has helped stock the Rough Riders in key positions, and this year’s team is no exception. Midfielders Eoin Farrell and Roc Carles Puig and defender Pierce Infuso are expected to play key roles for the squad. 

Midfielder Ethan Dekel-Daks, a former Nottingham Forest youth player and Asheville City SC standout who recently transferred from the University of South Carolina to West Virginia University, joined the team. Dekel-Daks earned United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region third team honors after he was selected to the Sun Belt All-Conference first team. 

Other newcomers include Fordham University midfielder Daniel D’Ipolllito, University of Wisconsin midfielder Trip Fleming, Georgia State midfielder Justin McLean, Northwestern University defender Nigel Prince, and Boston College defender CJ Williams (Valley Stream). 

“We’ve got to make sure that we come out ready to go in these games because it’s a short season,” Megaloudis said. “So, you have to be able to come out and perform every single time you get out there.” 


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