Cosmos forward Shavon John-Brown is one of the latest additions to the Pancyprians’ arsenal. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
QUEENS, N.Y. — Slowly, but surely, the N.Y Pancyprian Freedoms are rounding into form.
After a season-opening defeat to archrival N.Y. Greek Americans in September, the Pancyprians find themselves with a six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2) in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League First Division and nine across all competitions (7-0-2).
The Pancyprians (4-1-2, 14 points) have climbed to fifth place in the league after posting a 4-1 home win over the Cedar Stars Academy at Belson Stadium on Sunday night. The team trails first-place Lansdowne Yonkers FC (5-0-2, 17) by three points.
The Freedoms added to their spoils with a 4-0 win over KidSuper Samba AC at Randalls Island Field 70 Wednesday night. Andrea Andreou, Charlie Ledula, Nestor Bradley and Simon Tchoukriel found the net.
Sunday’s match was the second time in two weeks that the Pancyprians defeated Cedar Stars after 2-0 victory in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup second-round qualifying game in Mahwah, N.J. on Oct. 20.
“In games where you play a good opponent, the first 10-15 minutes you kind of feel each other out,” Pancyprians captain and left fullback Andreas Chronis said. “I think that’s how the game started. We know the way they play. We stuck to the same game plan that we did when we played them in New Jersey. Now that we’re getting to gel and finding our footing on the field, I think that we’re really going to be, with a full squad, pretty impossible to beat in the Cosmopolitan League.
“As the game progressed as we got more comfortable, and some of our new signings, they are getting more comfortable; that’s what made the difference. We took the lead and kept on going and kept on pressing and pushing. Now that we’re comfortable. I think it’s going to be hard for any team to beat us.”
Now, that’s some pretty strong words, but Chronis and the Pancyprians have a history, a pretty successful recent one at that, to back that claim. They have won three titles the past year, including the CSL First Division, Dr. Manning Cup and the Rapaglia Cup.
“I believe we’re picking up the pace now,” midfielder Andrea Andreou said. “It’s always tough to come back after the summer. The guys are away. We don’t train that much. Now that we’re starting to play a lot more, and get game chemistry with each other, we’re starting to pick it up and the results are coming as well.”
The Pancyprians were paced by Nestor Bradley, who tallied twice, as James Thristino and Shavon John-Brown added goals. Cedar Stars tallied its goal in the waning minutes
“They pushed in the second half very hard when we had a couple of injuries,” Andreou said. “I thought we played excellent. We pushed through the second half while they were trying to pressure us.”
Two of those injuries occurred in the opening half, when the Pancyprians lost both of their outside backs, a rarity — Jonathan Borrajo (calf) on the right side and Chronis (quad) on the left.
“t usually doesn’t happen,” Andreou said. “But we have enough depth on this squad. We trust all the players to come in and put in the performance that we need to get the result.”
Afterwards, Chronis said that he and Borrajo joked about their injuries.
“The style of play that our team has, the backs are up and down the whole game,” he said. “We like to play down the side. The past couple of weeks have been pretty intense with some really strong games played on some not so great fields. So, I think it just took a toll on our bodies. We were laughing about it. It’s probably because we run too much.
“Jonny was like, ‘Listen, me and your are getting a bit too old. We run too much,’ ” Chronis added with a chuckle. “Man, we need to sit back. We’re both in our 30’s now. Luckily, both of our injuries are not huge injuries. We just need a week’s rest. Hopefully, the team could win without us and hopefully we can be back the week after strong and ready to go.”
The Freedoms take on Forest Park in a Eastern New York Soccer Association State Cup game at the Glen Street Station Field in Glen Cove, N.Y. Sunday at noon.
Their next home game is set for Zum Schneider at Belson Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m.
The Freedoms have bolstered their depth with two key attacking additions in recent weeks — Shavon John-Brown, a Grenada international, and Ledula, who most recently finished their NPSL Members Cup season with the New York Cosmos.
“Shavon, to me, he’s one of the best players that has passed through the Cosmopolitan League,” Chronis said. “He has this tremendous work ethic, just an ability to find the holes. He really knows where to stand. He knows how to dribble into space. When he dribbles into space, it is extremely hard to stop him because he’s just so quick and so intuitive, getting into the right places. He really is one of the toughest players to mark on the field. He might not be a goal-scorer for us, but he is definitely one of the catalysts of the team.
“Together, Shavon and Charlie, those three additions are going to be critical for going forward. Teams are going to have to really watch out. We were a good team before them. Now, it’s going to be really hard to compete with us especially, if they find their footing and keep getting better and gel a little bit more as a team.”