COSMOS COPA NYC / AND THEN THERE WERE TWO: 2015 SEMIFINALS RECAP

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO: 2015 SEMIFINALS RECAP

By Aaron Cheris (@AaronHowie)

The Cosmos Copa semifinals at Randall’s Island on Sunday featured two difficult matches. At the beginning of the day, a rematch between 2014 finalists NYC Gambia and NYC France was possible, but NYC Colombia and NYC Ireland wrote a new script and advanced to the finals.

 
NYC France vs. NYC Colombia

After surviving a penalty kick shootout in Saturday’s quarterfinal against NYC El Salvador, NYC Colombia kept a hold of this game from the start, beating NYC France 4-2 in the first semifinal.
 
“It’s very exciting. It took lots of work to get all the players together, and we are very happy,” NYC Colombia president Guillermo Lillo said.
 
The Colombians got on the scoreboard quickly as Kevin Correa headed in a cross inside the NYC France box to give his team an early lead.
 
The 2013 champions found themselves in a bigger hole when Jozef Hemil Nieble squeaked one past the diving NYC France goalkeeper to double his team’s lead.
 
NYC France later earned a penalty kick, which Maxime Batel converted low past Colombian goalkeeper Minuel Elijaek to make it a one-goal game.

 As pouring rain started to fall on the turf, Correa again found the back of the net. This time, he scored while falling down inside the NYC France box to give his team a two-goal lead again.
 
In the second half, Elijaek was called on multiple times to stop the French attack, and he did just that. His best save came off a shot by Remi Depalmas, which Elijaek denied from close range.
 
“He’s a very strong goalkeeper,” Lillo said of Elijaek. “We have a very well-constructed team with good defense.”
 
NYC France got a little closer when Charles Fayet scored off a scramble in front of the Colombian net.
 
In the search for a French equalizer, the NYC France goalkeeper joined in the attack to try and tie the game. But the goalkeeper was caught on the attack, leaving NYC Colombia with an easy goal from Andres Mauricio to put the game away.
 
For the first time in team history, NYC Colombia is going to the finals.

NYC Gambia vs. NYC Ireland

The second quarterfinal featured the defending champions, NYC Gambia. After surviving two penalty shootouts in their last two games, the third time wasn’t the charm for the Gambians, as the Irish got the victory 1-1 (5-4) to advance to the finals for the second time.
 
“It’s been a long, hard struggle trying to get to the finals,” NYC Ireland coach Austin Friel said.
 
NYC Ireland got off on the wrong foot, as Yankuba Janneh scored from long range to give NYC Gambia the lead.
 
NYC Gambia kept the pressure going, but NYC Ireland goalkeeper Alex Condell repeatedly denied the attack.
 
After Gambia took a 1-0 lead into halftime, NYC Ireland pressed hard for an equalizer, but confident Gambian goalkeeper Ousman Tourey denied the attack.
 
As the half was winding down, NYC Ireland was awarded a penalty. On the penalty, Ian Sweeney drove it home to tie the game.

“The Irish players worked tirelessly hard to get back into the game and they deservedly equalized,” Friel said.
 
Eventually, more penalty kicks awaited the sides.
 
Through the first three rounds, neither keeper was able to make a save. Tourey stepped up and converted the third penalty himself.
 
On NYC Gambia’s fourth shot, Condell dove the right way, stopping the shot and putting his team in a position to win.
 
With a chance to send his team to the final, NYC Ireland’s John Dineen shot and scored, before being mobbed by his teammates in the ensuing celebration.
 
NYC Ireland’s previous finals appearance was in 2009, the first year of Cosmos Copa.
 
The Cosmos Copa Final will be played between NYC Ireland and NYC Colombia at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium on Sunday, August 2. It will follow the New York Cosmos' NASL match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at 5 p.m. ET.

COSMOS COPA 2017