MAHWAH, N.J. — Memo to other Cosmopolitan Soccer League teams:
The N.Y. Pancyprian Freedoms just might be finding their feet and their form and be aware.
Case in point: They defeat the Cosmopolitan Soccer League leaders and powerhouse Cedar Stars Academy in a second-round game of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifying round at Ramapo College on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The players certainly felt good about themselves after team Adam Himeno and second-half substitute Nicholas Psarras tallied second-half goals.
The three-time Open Cup champions booked a spot in the third round, set for the weekend of Nov. 23-24.
“This is incredible to us,” said Andreas Chronis, the team captain. “To be able to come out here, not only win, but to play really well and feel we were finally able to connect with each other because the first couple of games we were not able to connect with each other.”
The Pancyprian Freedoms got off to a 1-1-2 start in the CSL First Division, but have won two games in a row with another league game looming against KidSuper Samba AC at Coach Horowitz Field in the Bronx on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
“The more we play, the more we get back to the rhythm of last year,” said Chronis, who set up Himeno’s goal. “We started off a little slow and we knew we needed to just play games and get back into the swing of things. Today we came out and we knew what we needed to do. We’ve played this team many times before over the years and we know their game style, we know how they like to play. Our main objective was to attack from the sides today because we knew we were stronger on the sides. That’s what we did the whole game and finally we broke through and capitalized on that.”
Forward James Thristino agreed and elaborated.
“It’s definitely big for the team as a whole,” he said. “We started out a little slow, but we came out today and made a little bit of a statement that we came out flying. Probably our best game I’ve seen us play yet, which is a good start, a good sign. So, coming to the next round, I just hope we capitalize on our opportunities and keep going forward with it.”
Chronis saw only good things ahead for the Pancyprians, who won national crown in 1980, 1981 and 1983.
The Pancyprians’ goal is not just to qualify for the tournament proper when it kicks off next spring, but to go as far as the team can to spotlight the team and players and give the younger ones an opportunity to play against the best squads.
“The further we go in this tournament, the more opportunity we have to show what kind of caliber we have as an amateur team,” Chronis said. “We have a lot of players who are actually very good, a lot of young players who want to play at the highest level that they can and this is probably the only opportunity that they have and us as a team to continue going forward and proving what we have.
“The objective is to go as far as we could and to play as well as we could. Today, our coach said, ‘I felt the same, that we actually played soccer today.’ We enjoyed the game. We were out there fighting, and it worked. We were gelling with each other. That’s what we want to do, win or lose. As we’re going forward, we just want to show that we can play soccer with any team out there.”