This Northeast Region semifinal game between the Clarkstown SC Eagles and Legacy 76 appeared on paper to be headed towards being a very close match and it sure turned out that way.
In the first ten minutes both teams were feeling out each other in the middle of the pitch with no team having more possession. In the 11th minute, Clarkstown’s Andreas Chronis saw the Legacy keeper far off of his line. He sailed a long pass from the left side towards the middle of the field where forward Paulie Nittoli headed it over the keeper’s outstretched hands and into the back of the net for the early lead.
For the next twenty minutes it once again went back to a midfield game between the two teams with no real advantage for either side. In the 31st minute, Legacy finally got off its first shot, but it sailed over the Eagles’ goal. A minute later Clarkstown forward Phil Bannister placed a pass in front of the Legacy goal that was cleared by their defense. In the 36th minute Chronis once again found Nittoli in front of the Legacy goalmouth, but his shot went wide right. In the first half stoppage time Chronis sent a kick from 45 yards out towards the Legacy goal because he saw the keeper way off of his line again. However, this time the keeper got back in time to knock the ball down before it went into his net. That was the end of the first half with the Eagles having a 1-0 lead.
In the 49th minute Nittoli came down the right side of the pitch and found midfielder Sammy Nikocevic in front of the net, but his shot sailed way high over the Legacy goal. Two minutes later Bannister came down the left side and found Nittoli in front. His shot was on target, but deflected over the net by the Legacy defense. Clarkstown kept the pressure on when Korab Syla found Bannister in front of the net, but Bannister’s header went right into the keeper’s hands.
In the 55th minute Legacy seemed to find their second wind and went on the attack. First, a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box was on target, but was blocked over the crossbar by Eagles keeper Bryan Lopez. A minute later a Legacy shot from the left side sailed over the bar. Clarkstown countered two minutes later with Bannister shooting from right in front of the Legacy goal, only to have it blocked by a defender.
Legacy then went on the attack again in the 60th minute with Jeff Wolons taking a shot from the right side that was saved by Lopez. A minute later Legacy’s Reeves Trott took a shot from the left side that was once again saved by the Eagles’ keeper. Legacy kept up the pressure with Wolons crossing the ball right in front of the Clarkstown goalmouth, but nobody was there to put it in. A corner kick by Legacy found a head in front of the net, but the shot went wide right. A minute later a Clarkstown foul just outside the left side of the 18-yard box gave Legacy another good scoring opportunity, but the free kick was tipped far right of the goal by the Eagles’ defense.
The last fifteen minutes of the game had a lot of open play for both teams and some goal scoring chances for the Eagles, but they could not seem to get past the stingy Legacy defense. As the game wound down, Clarkstown spent most of the last ten minutes of the game with the ball close to the sidelines and near the corner flags. When the final whistle blew the early Clarkstown goal was the difference in this 1-0 game.
Clarkstown SC Eagles owner and head coach Oliver Papraniku was very pleased with the result.
“Legacy played a great game and really put us back on our heels for most of the second half, but our defense was just good enough to hold them off and our early goal wound up to be the difference in the game. We look forward to being in the Northeast final this coming weekend for the second straight year.”