The ongoing saga of scraping up enough players to play a game continued. With many hours and numerous emails out to the club, the Old Boys and Legends were able to scrape up enough players not just to play but also to substitute. In fact, by game time the Legends had 16 available allowing Resnik to focus on coaching and resting his aching knees while Subah’s partying was no hindrance to having him throw his weight around for the Legends as opposed to the Old Boys. The opposition were in the Over 30’s division and certainly looked the part based on their pregame drills. The Legends were more interested in introducing themselves to the other CPR team members helping out from the Oranges, Old Boys and Grays. They had plenty of time to do so given the referee’s extreme tardiness in showing up 20 minutes after scheduled kickoff.
With the field feeling slightly smaller than #74 it helped the older Legends remain compact and challenge Celtic to break them down. In addition it meant clearances allowed the forwards a chance to chase the ball down and put the opposition defence under pressure. The Legends were also trying to pick and choose their moments as to when to press, some of the bouncy balls causing control issues and helping defensive pressure. Although Celtic were able to pass the ball around they had difficulty getting any decent shots off, the field as much of a help as Pier 40 had been a hindrance the week before. The Legends actually had a chance to take the lead early as Accordino’s header found Mckeown who uncharacteristically sliced his shot when well placed. A few other flicks into the box eluded the attackers but the Legends were the team relieved and encouraged to reach the half deadlocked.
The half time talk emphasized defence, communication and pressing when the opportunity was available. As time went by, the Legends gained confidence and continued to snap into tackles. Celtic were larger and more physical and hence won most of the headers, but the Legends at least tried to make it difficult. Both teams had chances although Celtic had more, however an xG map would probably have shown most of the shots were of low probability. CPR rapidly became used to how each other played and the team ethos grew and solidified, all starting with the solid back line.
Finally the Legends were able to get the game over the line to penalties. Celtic won the toss and correctly chose to go first, burying their first kick. Venkataraman surprised many with one of the better penalties you will ever see, top left corner. The opposition scored next and then Mckeown also made up for a previous penalty miss, tying the shootout at 2-2. Up stepped the Celtic player to balloon the ball over the bar, opening the door wide for the Legends to win their first ever penalty shootout. Unfortunately defender Calcagni’s shot clipped the left post and went wide. Celtic scored next and D’Andrea tied it up with a clinical shot into the right side netting, eluding the goalie who chose the right direction to dive. It was now essentially sudden death. Celtic scored and it was upto Blagojevic, who had been immense all game. Unfortunately it was not to be as his shot went well wide of the left hand post. It was a cruel ending for the Legends who had executed their David strategy to perfection without being able to push on over the finish line to their first Semifinal. The hope is that they can take this promising performance and one more week’s rest for the injured and focus on finishing strongly in the last 4 games of the season, with potentially a playoff berth at stake.
Competition: Manhattan Celtic Bhoys, League Opposition
Location: Randall’s Island #73, Randall’s Island
Conditions: Lovely spring morning
Fans: 4 (Isadora, Emilio, Harriet, Laura)
Result: 0-0 HT: 0-0
2-2: MISS Calcagni
4-3: MISS Blagojevic
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Mike D’s aka No Shows: N/A
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: Ernest Subah, whose birthday celebrations were so exuberant that the striker needy Old Boys passed him over to the Legends.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: Fortunately no new injuries.
Old Man of the Match: Lots of contenders including Telly in goal, Belizan at Centerback and Accordino running box to box down the sideline. Blagojevic would have taken it home but for the game losing penalty miss, and so in a narrow decision Belizan takes it for locking the defence down and anticipating and breaking up attacks.
Old Man of the Bar: A rare appearance by Mazzi saw him get his full money’s worth.
El Presidente (Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None.
Statistic of the week: Belizan now has twice as many Old Man of the Match awards as the nearest contender Sean Street.
Team Bar Showing: 6 out of 16 (38%)
Team Bar Night: 4.5 out of 5. A decent chunk of people made it back and stuck around a while, and the Women’s Whites also made it all the way up from East 6th Street as well as Doug playing for the Old Boys. A good afternoon was had by all, depth and longevity. Masters in the background didn’t hurt.
Team (No new profiles this week): Telly Vamvouris (GK), Mark Resnik (DF), Franco Denari (DF), Luciano Belizan (DF), Eduardo Mazzi (DF), Kelvin Yu (DF), Dragan Blagojevic (DF), Charles Calcagni (DF), Gabriel Ruegg (DF), Tom Accordino, Steve Teesdale, Tony Vamvouris, Willian D’Andrea, Manohar Venkataraman, Simon Mckeown, Ernest Subah