January 31, 2013
GREAT FIRST-HALF FORM
Central Park Rangers enjoy 'probably best fall season" in CSL
By Jay Mwamba
Yuval Lion is as happy a camper as you can find anywhere during the Cosmopolitan Soccer League winter break. At the halfway mark, the Central Park Rangers manager likes what he sees when he looks at the CSL First Division log.
Sitting atop the West in a statistical tie with Lansdowne Bhoys (both 6-1-3, 21) is a CPR side in fine form in a division that also includes U.S. amateur soccer powerhouse Pancyprian Freedoms.
National champions only two seasons ago, Pancyprians were blanked 3-0 by CPR in one of the laters’ highlight wins this campaign.
“We’ve enjoyed probably [our] best ever fall season, losing just one out of ten league games,” Lion said.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for a club that narrowly escaped the drop last season. And even more remarkable that it has been accomplished without any major makeover.
“We only added one new first team player to the squad, and promoted three reserve players to become first team regulars, so the great results did not come from major new squad additions,” he said.
Lion attributed CPR’s new lease on life to several factors.
“Having a regular team out every week, when in past seasons we had to do a lot of chopping and changing; great team spirit with everyone working hard for each other; and excellent defensive performances, conceding less than a goal a game,” he said.
The success has been enough to make the CPR boss bullish.
“We hope to continue our fine form into the spring and challenge for the playoffs,” said Lion, who has high hopes for his second unit and the undefeated CPR Greys in Over-30 Division Two as well.
“Our usually outstanding reserve team is also in the play-off running again," he said. "After a rocky start to the season caused by many injuries, and the loss of the team's best players to the first team, results and performances are improving. Bring on March!"
CPR’s good form extends to the lower echelons where the Greys, one of the club’s three Over-30 teams, rule the roost in division two "A" with an almost flawless 7-0-2 (23 points) – an amazing feat for a side playing in the third tier last season.
“The success has been built on excellent defensive displays and the ability to grab vital goals when it most mattered,” said Lion, who plays left fullback for the Greys.
“Highlights of the season came when beating fellow promotion hopefuls Hoboken FC with a great goal after having been reduced to 10 men, and in the season closer against our club-mates, the CPR Old Boys, in a very tight and well contested match that we won 1-0.
“We hope to keep the unbeaten run going until the end of the [season],” he said.