Match Recap: Men vs. NJ Copa 

Written by Michael Lewis

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Tinashe Katsande struck twice within a five-minute span in the first half to spark the Long Island Rough Riders to a 2-1 victory over NJ Copa FC in their USL League Two season opener at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sunday evening. 

The win marked the successful head coaching debut of Chris Megaloudis, a former Rough Rider and Puerto Rican international. 

A superb performance by goalkeeper Aristotle Seferlis kept the NJ Copa FC in the match. 

The Rough Riders had the visitors on their back foot from the opening kickoff as forward Jonas Lyshoj fired a shot from the left side that Seferlis saved only 22 seconds after the opening kickoff. 

In fact, the opening half turned into a shooting clinic as the Rough Riders rarely allowed NJ Copa FC to cross the halfway line with the ball. 

In the 12th minute, Long Island came close to breaking the ice on a corner kick by the youngest player in the lineup, 18-year-old Kieran Chandler. Baptiste Boit headed the ball toward the net at the far-left post, but the ball was cleared off the line. Another shot was cleared by the defense only seconds later. 

The hosts continued to keep their foot on the pedal as Seferlis made a marvelous save on Justin McLean at the far-left post in the 19th minute. 

After the Rough Riders ripped several shots wide of the target, Ethan Dekel Daks drilled a free kick just outside the top of the box in the 39th minute that Seferlis spilled before gathering it in before any more damage could be done. 

The Riders finally solved Seferlis in the 41st minute. Chandler rifled a shot that the goalkeeper saved, but an onrushing Katsande smashed the ball into the back of the net at the right-far post for a deserved 1-0 lead. 

Two minutes later, Seferlis was called on to catch Danny D’Ippolito’s effort. 

Katsande ensured the Rough Riders would enter the locker room with a 2-0 halftime lead with a spectacular goal a minute into stoppage time. He latched onto a long ball from the back on the right side, beat his man and headed the ball once. Seferlis came out of the net, trying to cut down the angle, but Katsande found room to roll the ball into an empty net from 10 yards. 

The Rough Riders picked up where they left off in the second half as they continued to pepper shots at the Copa goal. McLean’s hard shot forced Seferlis to parry the ball out of bounds for a corner kick in the 49th minute. Seferlis also stopped McLean’s hard shot in the 64th minute. 

The visiting side came close to scoring in the 66th minute as a Copa shot ricocheted off the left post. Two minutes later, Copa was celebrating as substitute Edwin Lopez slid home Michael Campbell’s right-wing cross at the far post past goalkeeper Eryk Dymora to slice the lead to 2-1. 

In the opening game of the doubleheader, the Rough Riders women recorded an 8-0 triumph over the Westchester Flames in USL W League action. 

The men will return to action to play FC Motown at Ranger Field on Drew University on Saturday, May 25 at 6 p.m. 

Their next home game is set for Sunday, June 9 at 6 p.m., when they will host the Hudson Valley Hammers. 

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