Aaron Dennis scored for the Cosmos in the first half. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Cosmos celebrated their return to Long Island with a win Saturday night.
Aaron Dennis scored in the first half and substitute Charlie Ledula added an insurance goal in the final half to boost the Cosmos to a 2-0 victory over the New York Athletic Club in the National Premier Soccer League season opener at Mitchel Athletic Club Saturday night.
A chilly, but enthusiatic crowd of 3,750 watched the Cosmos dominated play from the opening kickoff to the final whistle as goalkeeper Santiago Castano recorded the shutout.
NYAC goalkeeper Laurence Girard kept the visitors in the match, making seven saves, all in the second half.
Since their reboot in 2013, the Cosmos called Hofstra University home through the end of the 2016 regular season before playing at MCU Park in Brooklyn for the 2007 North American Soccer League. The club fielded a team, Cosmos B last year, which split its season between LI and Rocco B. Commisso Stadium in New York City.
The Cosmos’ persistence finally made off in the 17th minute. A left-wing cross missed striker Bledi Bardic but Dennis latched on the ball and beat Girard for the hosts’ first game of the season.
Bardic thought he had scored from close range in the 24th minute, but the Cosmos were ruled to be offside.
Dennis, the man of the match, had an opportunity to double the lead on the half hour, but he headed Ansi Agolli’s left-wing cross wide right of the goal.
The Cosmos outshot NYAC in the first half, 8-1, including having the lone shot on goal, Dennis’ score.
On the other end of the field, Castano had a relatively silent first half. Most of the action that he saw was when a teammate passed the ball back to him.
The Cosmos’ domination continued in the second half.
Early in the half, Cosmos midfielder Darwin Espinal had two good chances to score. He forced Girard to make a diving save in the 50th minute before the keeper denied him on a 2-on-1 break two minutes later.
Girard was up to the task again, denying Bardic from point-blank range in the 55th minute.
Bardic continued to fire blanks as he drilled a shot wide right after captain Danny Szetela fed him from the right side.
Only 68 seconds after coming on for Ricardo Bocanegra, Ledula chested down a long pass from second-half substitute Aly Alberto Hassan, turned and slipped the ball into the net past Girard for the insurance goal in the 77th minute.