Making his club debut on Sunday night, Kwesi Mills-Odoi finished off a brilliant team move to secure all three points for Kevin Grogan’s men in a 1-0 win at Zum Schneider.
The Rocks were impressive against the newly promoted Division 2 champions, who showed why they will be sure to challenge for a playoff spot in the spring.
The midfield pairing of Rafa Carpes and Giuseppe Barone linked play brilliantly between the forwards and the rock-solid central defense pairing of captain Zachary Gosse and powerful former Port Vale defender Charlie O’Loughlin.
Meanwhile up front, Jamie Clarke and Alejandro Fritz were a constant threat on the wings, while roving playmaker Ibrahim Diaby caused constant headaches for the Zum back four.
Indeed Diaby, O’Loughlin and Barone were all involved in the great move that culminated in Barone’s back heel to Fritz allowing the winger to cross low to Mills-Odoi, who finished calmly from close range.
The striker almost made it 2-0 when his superb shot crashed off the Zum crossbar, and although the home side rallied in the closing stages, the Rocks held out for a perfect start to the new season.
“I’m very satisfied with the result,” said Grogan. “We will get better each week, but we showed a discipline and a maturity that very much satisfied.”
The reserves were handed a forfeit in the curtain raiser, and will host NYAC in a stern test next Saturday evening at St. Michael’s.
Earlier, the Rocks Women got their league campaign off to the ideal start with a 2-0 victory at Magic Reserves in East River Park.
A first half goal from Sinéad Hennessy settled the nerves of Paddy Geraghty’s newly promoted Division A team, and Jade Andrade’s superb effort in added time rounded out the win.
Over in Brooklyn, the newly formed Women’s B team had their first taste of action with a game away to Beyond FC, succumbing 3-1 in spite of a Cassie Esposito goal.
“We had 11 players make their debut for the club with Jade Andrade and Cassie Esposito scoring their first goals,” said Paddy Geraghty. “We’ll work at practice this week to improve and look forward to our home games next week.”
The Over 30s won the Irish Derby at Manhattan Celtic, 2-0, thanks to a brace from Tayfun Gokmen late on Sunday night at Pier 40.
“I’m very glad to get the first game out of the way,” said coach Paddy McCarry. “We were rusty which was to be expected with quite a few new players added to the squad.
“We stuck in there and played for one another especially when we had to play the last 40 minutes with ten men,” he added. “Tayfun had two great finishes and he could have had three only for a brilliant save by the keeper.”
Elsewhere, the day began with a pair of tough defeats for the Legends and Rocks 1960 at St. Michael’s.
Missing several key players, the Legends battled well and were unlucky to fall 2-0 down before halftime. Some superb interplay between forwards Tyrone Kent and Stevie Doyle gave the Legends a lifeline with 20 minutes left. Unfortunately Eintracht scored a great long range goal to make it 3-1 and seal all three points.
“Overall, everybody gave 100 percent,” said assistant coach Eoin Sweeney. “Tough loss but we will push on to the next game with optimism as this team showed great fight and spirit against a very good Eintracht team.”
Ridgewood Romac were just good enough to overturn Rocks 1960, scoring a goal in either half to secure a 2-0 win.
Impressive debuts from Johnny Hall and Rory O’Leary served as nice consolations during what was a tough start in Metro 1 for Andy Connolly’s men.
Rocks add Clarke
Coach Kevin Grogan received a timely boost ahead of the new season with confirmation that Jamie Clarke committed to the Queens-based Shamrocks for the Cosmopolitan Soccer League Division 1 campaign.
The former Armagh GAA star recently won an AOH Cup title for his home soccer club in Crossmaglen.
The 27-year-old is versatile and attack minded, able to play on either wing or up front and brings with him an eye for goal.
“I have enjoyed moving to New York and I was keen to find a soccer club that plays at a competitive level,” said Clarke. “It’s been a good experience training under Kevin.”