By Michael Lewis
Cedar Stars Academy continued to bulk up Tuesday with its biggest addition of the season.
The star-studded team added a star head coach in Austin Friel as the Cosmopolitan Soccer League club signed the former Lansdowne Bhoys head coach Austin Friel to a long-term contract. The length of the deal was not immediately known.
CSA has signed seven players from FC Motown, which reached the National Premier Soccer League final before losing to Miami FC 2, 3-1. They include defenders Naser Hani, Julius James, a former Trinidad & Tobago international, and Hunter Freeman and midfielders Dilly Duka, Walter Calderon, and Maxi Garcia and forward Chris Katona, who is team captain and an assistant coach.
The team also signed two Cosmos B players — striker Bledi Bardic, who led the NPSL team with 12 goals in 11 games, and right back Jonathan Borrajo.
“Excited to announce that I’ve signed a long-term deal to be head coach of Cedar Stars Academy in @CosmoLeague,” he said on Instgram Tuesday. “Looking forward to working with Oliver, the players, and everyone involved with the club. Excited for the challenge of winning many championships with this club.”
Oliver Papraniku owns the Cedar Stars and FC Motown.
Friel was named the 2017 Region I coach of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association after directing Lansdowne to a pair of national titles during a two-week span last year — the Fritz Marth U.S. Amateur Cup and Werner Fricker Cup.
The team also won the Dr. Manning Cup as Eastern New York State Soccer Association champions, giving Lansdowne a treble.
Friel will be aided by assistant coach-team manager Bujar Gjata and Katona.
“We look forward to the partnership in achieving our goals and challenges of winning championships,” Cedar Stars said on Twitter.
Friel stepped down as Lansdowne head coach June 14.
“All good things must come to an end and such is the case with my time at Lansdowne,” he wrote on Twitter at the time. “The past 6 years we’ve won a lot and had a lot of laughs. I want to thank the board, the players, and everyone involved with the club. Very excited to see what the next step in my journey will be.”
Well, now he knows.
And just in case you were wondering, Cedar Stars is scheduled to visit Lansdowne Sunday, Sept. 16. However, since Lansdowne is set to meet Port Jefferson SC in the Sal Rapaglia Cup in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. Sunday, that CSL encounter will be rescheduled for another time.
Cedar Stars rolled to a 6-1 victory over Zum Schneider FC 03 in its season opener at Randalls Island Sunday. Katona scored four goals and Bardic two.