The first weekend of June will be a busy one for the Long Island Rough Riders men’s and women’s teams.
The men’s team will take on Evergreen FC on June 2 and Ocean City Nor’easters on June 3 in PDL action to conclude a three-match road stretch. Kickoff against Evergreen FC is 7 p.m. Saturday from Evergreen Sportsplex in Leesburg, Va. Kickoff against the Nor’easters is 7 p.m. Sunday from Carey Stadium in Ocean City, N.J.
On the women’s side, Long Island kicks off a busy stretch of matches beginning with consecutive United Women’s Soccer road matches against Western New York Flash and Rochester Lancers. Kickoff against Western NY is 6 p.m. Saturday at D’Youville College in Buffalo. Kickoff against the Lancers is 2 p.m. Sunday at Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester.
The men’s Rough Riders (4-1-0 overall, 3-0-0 PDL) are coming off consecutive 1-0 victories over Ocean City on May 19 and FA Euro New York on May 22. Charlie Ledula scored to help Long Island topple the previously unbeaten Nor’easters, while Matthew Sloan’s penalty kick in stoppage time sealed the win against FA Euro.
“This weekend is our biggest test no doubt,” said Stephen Roche, Long Island’s first-year head coach. “Playing two games back to back is a massive test both physically and mentally, and it will also test the depth of our squad. That being said, I have full confidence in the squad and it will be a chance for some players who haven’t played that much to show what they can do.”
While escaping with consecutive victories and three points in each match is crucial, Roche is more pleased with the play of the defense following back-to-back shutouts.
“I have very high expectations of our goalkeepers and defenders and in the last two games they have stepped up,” Roche said. “The first few weeks weren’t good enough and they know that. In the last two games we have only given up one clear chance on goal and we need to continue to be that tight defensively if we are to be successful.”
On the women’s side, it’s been a choppy start to the UWS season for head coach Karim Diallo’s team. The Rough Riders (0-1-0) had to wait a week to begin their 2018 campaign due to inclement weather, with that match against New Jersey Copa FC being rescheduled for June 27. Long Island lost 3-1 to the Flash on May 19 to start the season. Carissima Cutrona scored twice for Western NY, while Erica Modena got the Rough Riders on the board for the first time this summer.
“We were not very good in transition defense, which I was nervous about before the game even began,” said Diallo, the team’s first-year head coach. “We talked about it and I believe the team will be much better in that regard Saturday.”
Over the past two weeks, the head coach said he has used the time for additional practices to get a better feel for his players.
“I don’t think the two weeks between games is necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “You definitely want to be in a rhythm by playing every weekend, but we have had the chance to talk about the things we didn’t do well in the first game and hopefully we get better in the second.”
After consecutive games this weekend, Long Island returns home for matches against New York Surf (June 6) and Rochester (June 9).
Information for this article provided by Long Island Rough Riders.