It was almost midnight on Sunday when Frankie Tsasse saved a second penalty in a dramatic 7-6 shootout victory that sparked wild celebrations and sent the Rocks through to a June 4th Manning Cup showdown against CSL rivals Lansdowne.
That Irish Derby will pair two teams that have never won the trophy and is sure to be a memorable occasion. And Kevin Grogan will be encouraged by this impressive performance against a highly talented Greek outfit.
Ninety minutes of attacking football at the historic Met Oval could not separate two evenly matched sides. An early Andy O’Connell penalty put the Rocks a goal to the good after the superb Giuseppe Barone was taken down in the box, but a Zachary Gosse own goal leveled it after halftime setting up the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Sean Reilly, Andy O’Connell and Chris Uy scored the first three and both teams missed their fourth opportunities. Emil Thomsen made it four before a Laurie Child miss was evened out by Tsasse’s first save.
Captain Gosse, Kwesi Mills-Odoi and defender Dan Giorgi all dispatched confidently before Tsasse ultimately denied that crucial final effort.
“Amazing victory,” said the delighted Grogan. “The work ethic was phenomenal and the discipline was excellent.”
There will also be an Irish Derby for the reserves in the next round after their 6-0 win over East Hampton in Long Island on Saturday earned a D’Arpino Cup semi-final for John Riordan’s men.
Darren Coleman tore the East Hampton defense apart in the second half after a scoreless first, the Tipperary man netting twice and setting up two more as the floodgates opened.
It was 0-0 at halftime in spite of an early disallowed goal for birthday boy Nikle Guzijan. Coleman got the scoring underway five minutes after the break, and then set up fellow striker and team captain Paul McDaid, who made it 2-0.
Sean O’Neill had been barely sprung from the bench when he scored with almost his first touch and then completed his brace five minutes later. Coleman set up Johnny Hayes for 5-0 before scoring his second after an assist from O’Neill.
“We made hard work of it initially and the conditions didn’t help, but that second half was very enjoyable,” said coach John Riordan. “We knew we had to be patient and get that first goal.”
Elsewhere, Marth Cup champions Shamrocks Over 30s marched on to their own semifinal thanks to a hard fought 3-0 win at Port Jefferson in Centereach.
Top scorer Johnny McGeeney scored twice, while there was also a strike for Brazilian forward Leo Coimbra, sending Paddy McCarry’s men onwards as they bid to keep their back-to-back dream alive.
“This was without a shadow of a doubt the most physical game I have ever been involved in,” said McCarry. “We held our composure and did not react and eventually we finished them off. This is our cup and this team intends to hold on to it.”
Meanwhile, Chloe Wheeler scored two stunning strikes to send the Shamrocks Women’s team through to the final four.
In what was a hotly anticipated clash of the two Division A high fliers, the current champions CPR took a lead after an error at the back.
But the Rocks gathered their composure and equalized through a brilliantly worked play involving Wheeler and captain Teresa Ferraro, which allowed the team’s top scorer to rifle home a left-footed strike.
The Rocks deservedly took the lead in the second half, another left-footer from the Californian that sealed a memorable win for Paddy Geraghty’s charges on what was a special day for the club legend, celebrating his 40th birthday back at the Courtyard Ale House.
“This was our toughest match of the season and a true battle for 90 minutes,” said Ferraro. “Everyone stepped up, we found our composure and fought back for a hard-earned W.”
Unfortunately, Shamrocks Women B could not gain a foothold in their title race, succumbing 4-2 to now outright leaders NY United. Cassie Esposito and Shannon Fitzpatrick were on the mark for the home team.
In the Saunders Cup quarterfinal, Shamrocks 1960 were unlucky with injuries, conceding three second-half goals in a 3-1 loss to Koarbi in Staten Island. Dave Harvey had ensured a halftime lead for the Rocks.
“No complaints,” said player assistant coach Neil Mannion. “We’ll see out the league campaign now.”