Cedar Stars FC Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive with 1-1 Draw

By Christopher Decker/Cedar Stars FC

On a scorching hot Friday night, Cedar Stars FC and Kingston Stockade FC met up for the second time this season in a Hudson Valley Derby.  In the previous matchup of the new regional rivalry, Stockade came out on top in a 2-0 result at Dietz Stadium in Kingston, NY.  With both teams looking for a win to help secure a spot in the playoffs, they went head-to-head this time at Faller Field in Middletown, NY.

During a pregame interview Stockade head coach Jamal Lis-Simmons was asked about the emotions regarding the local rivalry and if it impacts the players.  

“Everybody knows what’s going on,” Lis-Simmons said. “The players know what it is, obviously there are a couple guys on the other team that we’re very familiar with.  The fans obviously love it.  I think everybody knows what it is, and it should be a fun environment today.”

Lis-Simmons was correct in his prediction that it would be a fun environment.  In front of a large and loud crowd, including the traveling Dutch Guard supporters group, the first half kicked off with competing drums from each side of the stands.  

Many players on both teams were familiar with each other having grown up playing the beautiful game in the Hudson Valley.  Cedar Stars FC’s Sam LaTorre, Thomas Stickley, and Dylan McDermott all recently played for Kingston Stockade FC; CSFC assistant coach Christian Henry is a former Stockade player.  CSFC is in their inaugural season in the NPSL, but this young rivalry amongst the NPSL’s Hudson Valley teams was obvious on the field and in the stands, as it was on social media throughout the week.  

From the first whistle the game was intense and very evenly matched.  Both teams produced quality chances in the first half but Cedar Stars goalkeeper Daniel DiMarco and Stockade goalkeeper Jaiden Pean put on amazing performances.  Between the goalkeepers and well-organized defenses on both sides of the pitch, the match remained scoreless through the first 45 minutes.

If those that filled the stands at Faller Field were entertained in the first half of the game, they certainly got their money’s worth in the second half as well.  Both teams came out of the locker rooms knowing they needed to get the job done in the second half and finish the night with three points if they wanted to help ensure a chance to compete in the playoffs.  

It was in the 82nd minute that the Dutch Guard erupted when Stockade forward Scott Zobra hit the back of the net.  With under eight minutes remaining in regular time, it looked like Cedar Stars FC’s chances of making it into the playoffs during their first season were quickly coming to an end.  A sad reality for the hundreds of fans that had gathered for their side’s final home game of the regular season, but that didn’t stop the wall of green from bringing the noise and helping energize the players on the field.  

As the clock worked its way past the 90-minute mark, all hope seemed lost.  That is, until the ball found the feet of CSFC attacker Josh Camilo who replaced Christopher Shust in the 40th minute of the match.  Starting on CSFC’s defensive half of the pitch, Camilo took on three Stockade players while covering over 35 yards.  He then saw Jaiden Pean off his line and fired a rocket of a shot into the far upper 90 of the frame.  Lucky for Faller Field that there is no roof on the stadium because the fans would have blown it off after CSFC tied things up in the 91st minute to keep their playoff hopes alive.  A few more chances followed for CSFC before the final whistle blew but they were unable to find the net.

A disappointing result for both teams and their fans for sure, but both Cedar Stars FC and Kingston Stockade remain in the running for a chance to compete in the conference playoffs with the 1-1 draw on Friday night. 

Josh Camilo, who scored in the 91st minute to keep CSFC’s playoff hopes alive, shared his thoughts after the match. 

“It was a hard-fought game,” Camilo said. “We played well in spurts and there are always things we can improve on.  In the end, we were able to get the drawing goal and it gives us that last bit of hope.  We just have to train productively this week and play next Saturday, as if it’s already the playoffs.”

When asked about his goal, likely the most important thus far in the short history of Cedar Stars FC, he humbly stated that “the goal speaks for itself, and quite frankly any player on the team is capable of scoring that goal.”

Cedar Stars FC head coach Jim Lagarde also spoke about the night.

“We really worked hard in training this week and came into this match with the mindset that we must win this match,” Lagarde said. “I personally believe that the match was far in our favor, but we didn’t finish the opportunities we had to put the game away.  Now we are off to Syracuse FC with a must-win to be in playoff contention.  This is a very resilient group of players, and we believe they will be ready to head to Syracuse and grab three points on July 9.”

Lagarde went on to thank the incredible fans that came out all season and the volunteers that helped make Cedar Stars FC possible and make every home game an exciting experience for all involved.

Cedar Stars FC midfielder Tegh Singh provided similar thoughts following the match.

“It was a great turnout from the fans tonight.”  Singh said. “We were unlucky with the result, we had a tough opponent, but I thought we played well.  We have one more regular season game to play, and we need to get the job done.”

Camilo also commented about the support the team has had throughout the season.

“It’s great to see the fans come out and support us, so I am glad that we gave them a nice little moment,” Camilo said. “All the guys appreciate [the supporters] and it makes playing so much more meaningful.”

Cedar Stars FC will head north on Saturday, July 9 to take on Syracuse FC in the final game of their inaugural season.

Photo Credit: Christopher Decker/Cedar Stars FC


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