Jonathan Borrajo: “If we do the things that we know we have to do, if we take care of ourselves, if we stick to our game plan, if we play the game we know we can play, we should be fine.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Cosmos B can move a step closer to its goal of winning the National Premier Soccer League title Wednesday night.
The squad faces FC Frederick in the Northeast Region semifinals at Hofstra Soccer Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. at 7:30 p.m. The winner will advance to Saturday’s regional final against the victor of the FC Motown-FC Baltimore semifinal in Madison, N.J. at 8 p.m. The final will be played Sunday, venue and time TBD.
Cosmos B discovered that it hasn’t been easy finding information about FC Frederick, the Mid-Atlantic Conference champion that is composed of current and former college players, many under 23 years of age.
“Taking into account that we don’t know much about them, I think the most important thing is to focus on ourselves,” Cosmos B right back Jonathan Borrajo said. “If we do the things that we know we have to do, if we take care of ourselves, if we stick to our game plan, if we play the game we know we can play, we should be fine.”
FC Frederick (6-4-2, including the playoffs), which brings a four-game unbeaten streak (2-0-2) in the match, took third in the Mid-Atlantic Conference with a 4-4-2 mark. The Maryland-based team defeated second-place Northern Virginia United (6-3-1) in the conference semifinals last Thursday and surprised first-place FC Baltimore (7-2-1) in Saturday’s final, 2-1. Forward Jacob Gooselin, who will enter his junior year at Millersville University, led the team scoring (10 goals in eight matches) during the regular season.
“They’re on a good roll,” Cosmos B head coach Carlos Mendes said. “We know they’re a difficult team to play against. It’s a team that works hard. They attack in numbers, they get behind the ball. And a team that’s going to fight. We need to match the intensity. We need to be ready. That’s most important. Our quality and things like that will hopefully get us into the rhythm of the game. But we expect a battle, a team that’s in form and obviously with a lot of confidence.”
While the hosts haven’t lost a match this season (12-0), center back Alejandro Penzini said that they shouldn’t be overconfident, given that the team has played consecutive extratime matches in the playoffs.
“Any team that gets to this stage needs to be respected,” he said. “We cannot take them for granted, you cannot go into the game thinking that you’re better than them. I think from the previous game against the Brooklyn Italians, we learned a lesson. We know we have to do a better job than what we did vs. the Brooklyn Italians and we have to apply those things, those corrections, into our game. We definitely have to respect them even though we might not know much about them. We still have to come out there and earn their respect as well.”
Cosmos B defeated the Italians in a penalty shootout, 5-3, after playing to a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes of regulation and extratime.
At this juncture, the regular season doesn’t mean a thing right now as the playoffs are a whole new season.
“Come playoffs, you kind of forget about the regular season,” striker Wojciech Wojcik said. “It’s what team that has been able to pick up rhythm. Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to do that as well. We’ve been moving pretty well and moving onto the next round. So have they. It’s going to be a pretty good matchup. We have to be ready to battle, bring the intensity, play smart football and score on our chances when we get them and defend as a team.”