Long Island Rough Riders head coach Flavio Ferri has stressed the importance of controlling one’s own destiny all season to his players. If the team is in a position to accomplish a goal — like advance to the PDL playoffs — it’s up to them to take advantage of it.
Long Island is presented with a golden opportunity to remain in prime position for a playoff berth, traveling to AC Connecticut on Friday in the penultimate game of the regular season. Kickoff is 6 p.m. from Western Connecticut State University.
“I spoke to the players about how they have earned the right to be where they are,” Ferri said. “This group has shown that they are able to step up in big situations, so I am confident that they will be focused and hungry. I told them to enjoy the moment and play with confidence.”
The Rough Riders (7-2-3) are second in the PDL Eastern Conference Northeast Division with 24 points, trailing only Seacoast United (9-1-2; 29 points). Long Island split its two-game Massachusetts road trip last weekend, losing 3-0 at Western Mass on July 7 before bouncing back with a 3-1 win at FC Boston the following day.
“The weekend was positive overall,” Ferri said. “Interestingly, I thought we played better in the first game. We out-shot the Pioneers 14-7 and had at least 60 percent possession. They caught us on a few breaks and were competent with their finishing. I thought we showed tremendous character and resiliency in the game against FC Boston. They needed a win to stay alive and were rested. In addition, we had to deal with about two hours of weather delays. In the end, the players grinded out a result and made the bus ride home an enjoyable one.”
AC Connecticut is coming off a 4-1 home win against Westchester on July 8. Even though AC Connecticut (2-8-2; 8 points) is near the bottom of the division Ferri is confident his players won’t overlook their opponent.
A solid performance against AC Connecticut will not only provide the Rough Riders with a much-needed three points down the stretch, but also give the team momentum heading into the regular-season finale against Western Mass (7-3-2; 23 points) on Sunday in what could be a winner-take-all game that decides which other team advances to the postseason.
“The approach will be the same for both games,” Ferri said. “We have a clear playing style and philosophy. The players have bought into this and attempt to carry it out every game. I believe in the quality and character of the group and we’re determined to get the result in both games.”