With so much roster turnover in between seasons, Long Island Rough Riders head coach Stephen Roche has emphasized his players focus on two key aspects: the basics and defending. The rest will fall into place over time.
The team was able to succeed in both, kicking off the 2019 campaign with a 2-0 victory against Cedar Stars Rush on Saturday evening at Hofstra University Soccer Stadium.
Long Island, official USL League Two affiliate of New York City FC, looks to keep the momentum going at home against Lehigh Valley United at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15.
“The team needs to gel and that takes time,” Roche said. “As we have more training sessions and more games the players will understand each other better. … Overall, Saturday’s win was a very solid performance. We were very good defensively.”
The Rough Riders (1-0-0) jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the 20th minute as Manuel Ferriol scored the team’s first goal of 2019. Long Island kept its lead at the halftime interval and secured all three points in the 58th minute on a goal by Matt Sloan.
While the Rough Riders were able to score twice, they were equally as effective on defense, limiting Cedar Stars Rush’s chances in front of net en route to a shutout in goalkeeper Josh Levine’s team debut. Captain Tom Wharf and Pierre Cayet were stout anchoring the middle of the back line, while Dylan Nealis and Niclas Mohr provided as much defensively as they did going forward in attack.
“All 11 players contributed to the clean sheet,” Roche said.
The players enjoyed the victory Sunday and trained Monday and Tuesday with little time between the next match.
Lehigh Valley United (0-1-0) is coming off a 5-2 loss to 2018 PDL national runner-up Reading United AC on May 11 after surrendering three second-half goals.
BY: Michael LoRé