SOUTH HUNTINGTON, N.Y. – Win and in.
The objective is that simple. The Long Island Rough Riders need to win their final two games of the United Women’s Soccer regular season this weekend to qualify for the East final against regular-season champion New Jersey Copa FC Tuesday.
The winner of the East final will receive the automatic berth into the UWS National Championship in Grandville, Mich. July 21-22.
First, the New York Magic await. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. Friday from Cy Donnelly Stadium on the campus of St. Anthony’s High School.
“The approach to the game needs to be the same as it has been all season,” Rough Riders General Manager Flavio Ferri said. “The key is to focus exclusively against the Magic and not look ahead. Another important factor is not to press too much for the result and show patience and composure.”
Long Island (5-2-1) is fourth in the UWS East Conference with 16 points, trailing NJCFC (8-1-1, 25), New England Mutiny (7-3, 21) and New York Surf (6-2-2, 20).
The Rough Riders are coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at the Surf Saturday, July 8. Long Island led 1-0 on a goal by Erica Modina in the 25th minute before the Surf tallied twice in the second half. The visitors came back to knot it at 2-2 in the 77th minute on a goal by Morgan Santoro before surrendering the deciding goal in the 87th minute.
“The team played well,” Ferri said. “That said, we could have been a bit more aggressive at times. It was a good match and I think a draw would have been the most fair result. We have to learn from that game as we have two finals coming up.”
The Magic (0-8-1 1) is at the bottom of the division following a 6-0 loss to Western New York Flash on July 8th. A win against their rivals keeps the Rough Riders’ hopes alive for a playoff berth, needing another three points against Lancaster (4-5; 12 ) at home Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
“The Magic are a local rival and although we have historically done well against them, the results have generally been close,” Ferri said. “They have an opportunity to knock us out of the playoffs and I’m sure they will be motivated. We beat the Inferno by a large margin [6-1] earlier in the season. That said, I don’t think that score represents the difference in the two teams. Knowing a draw or loss eliminates us, I’m sure our players will be focused and ready to play.”