Two matches. Two victories. Two shutouts.
The Long Island Rough Riders couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2019 USL League Two campaign, but head coach Stephen Roche knows there’s still a lot of work to be done during the course of the campaign.
Long Island looks to remain undefeated when it entertains Ocean City Nor’easters on May 22. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. from Hofstra University Soccer Stadium.
“Starting the season well is so important with two goods wins under our belt, but our performances need to improve,” Roche said. “All over he field we need to be better, especially in terms of keeping the ball. A lot of our issues against Lehigh Valley United came from us not keeping the ball.”
The Rough Riders, exclusive USL League Two affiliate of New York City FC, defeated Cedar Stars Rush 2-0 on May 11 to open the season and repeated the same scoreline against Lehigh Valley United on May 15.
First-year goalkeeper Josh Levine has been perfect between the pipes with a stout defensive unit in front of him including Tom Wharf, Dan Gwyther, Pierre Cayet, Dylan Nealis and Niclas Mohr.
“In the first game against Cedar Stars we were excellent defensively,” Roche said. “Against Lehigh Valey we were a little lucky, to be honest. We have some great new additions this year in the back line and the likes of Pierre Cayet and Dylan Nealis have made a big impact.”
Long Island (2-0-0), currently atop the Eastern Conference Mid Atlantic Division standings, has also found success offensively, averaging two goals per game in the early season for a plus-4 goal differential. Manu Ferriol, Matt Sloan and Alexander Dexter have all found the back of the net as the team is without 2018 leading goal scorer Charlie Ledula.
“We have a lot of players on the team capable of scoring goals,” Roche said. “We need to keep creating chances and others will start scoring as well.”
Ocean City (0-0-1) is coming off a 1-1 season-opening draw at FA Euro on May 18.
BY: Michael LoRé