It all comes down to this. The Long Island Rough Riders need at least a draw against the Western Mass Pioneers on Sunday in their 2017 PDL regular-season finale order to qualify for the playoffs. Kickoff is 4 p.m. from Cy Donnelly Stadium on the campus of St. Anthony’s High School.
Long Island (8-2-3) is second in the PDL Eastern Conference Northeast Division with 27 points, while Western Mass (8-3-2) is hot on the Rough Riders’ heels with 26 points.
If the Rough Riders draw or win, they advance to the playoffs. A loss means the Pioneers move on.
“You play all season with the intention of getting into the playoffs,” Long Island head coach Flavio Ferri said. “Based on what the team has done, we control our own destiny going into this last game. Coming into the season, we aspired to get into the playoffs and qualify for the U.S. Open Cup for the following season.
“We have an opportunity to achieve both and we are prepared for this moment.”
Long Island returns home for the regular-season finale following three consecutive games on the road. The Rough Riders won two games on their travels, most recently a 2-1 victory at AC Connecticut on Friday. The team is unbeaten (4-0-2) at home this season.
“We are pleased to be at home, but understand that we are playing a quality, motivated opponent and we need to put in a high-level performance in order to get the result.”
The Rough Riders lost 3-0 at Western Mass on July 7, snapping a six-game unbeaten run. Long Island outshot the Pioneers 14-7 and held the advantage in possession despite the final score.
“Honestly, I thought we played fairly well in that game despite the result,” Ferri said. “They were much more efficient than us and we need to do a better job dealing with their counterattack.
“They key Sunday is to take our opportunities when they come as they are strong defensively. If we can get up on them, it will force them to open up which is the type of game we like to play.”
Tickets for Sunday’s regular-season finale game against Western Mass are available at www.liroughriders.com. The Rough Riders offer many ticket options for home games in order to provide interactive fun and excitement for family and friends. Choose between family, team, and party packages to make your Rough Riders experience one to remember.