Kingston Stockade FC’s upward trajectory continued over the weekend as they picked up their first win of the 2019 campaign, a dramatic 2-1 result on the road against National Premier Soccer League foe the Rhode Island Reds.
Head coach Jamal Lis-Simmons said his team spent the long bus ride from Kingston locked in and ready, especially after feeling they’d missed an opportunity to win one week earlier in a 1-1 draw at Greater Lowell.
“Things have been progressively getting better for us, and we had a little bit of a bad taste in our mouths from the previous week feeling like we’d left a couple of points on the road in Lowell,” Lis-Simmons said. “We were excited to get back on the road and put everything together. The guys were calm and relaxed and ready to go.”
It took 12 minutes for Kingston to strike, with Alejandro Riquelme’s perfectly arced pass finding Mikey Lanzetta across the defense. Lanzetta chipped it in for the back post goal.
“We had a set piece in the middle of the field,” said Lis-Simmons. “We took it real quick and played it to Riquelme’s feet, and he found Mikey on a backside run, lifted a great ball to him, and it was a quality finish by Mikey. It was a really good play.”
The slim Stockade lead held into the break, but Rhode Island came back out of the locker room and stole momentum, with Gentian Selimi equalizing in the 62nd minute.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Lis-Simmons. “We dominated play for the most part in the first half, created a couple of more opportunities and got that goal from Mikey. They had a few opportunities in the first half on a couple of mistakes on our end. We knew in the second half we were going to get their best shot, and we did. They put us under a lot of pressure, and for us it was just kind of sticking to the script and finding our rhythm.”
Kingston found its rhythm after Rhode Island tied the game, and the two teams played even into stoppage time. Juan Parada took what would be the final corner of the game for Kingston, sending it across the front of the goal where it found Tyler Swanbeck, who headed the ball home for the win. Swanbeck came on in the 81st minute, a tactical move by the coaching staff that paid off.
“We put in a handful of subs, and those guys were able to find their rhythm,” said Lis-Simmons. “We just kept grinding. We were under a lot more pressure and were fortunate to get the winner late.”
The win was the first for Lis-Simmons at the helm, who sees his club jump to fourth place in the NPSL’s North Atlantic Conference Division. Kingston is one of three teams in the division with four total points, but the only one to get there in just three games.
There were others firsts in the game as well, with Noah Robinson, Paul Makaj and goalkeeper Jared Mazzola all starting for Stockade for the first time. Joey Landicino, Cam LaVallee and Vinny Colantuono all came off the bench for Kingston for the first time as well.
Mazzola’s contribution was crucial, with seven saves, including a one-handed stop at the 42nd minute that kept Kingston up heading into the half.
Kingston boasts an extensive roster that will continue to grow over the next few weeks as college players become eligible for play. Lis-Simmons said depth is important for a semi-pro team where real life sometimes prevents players from making trips out of town.
“It was rewarding to bring a handful of new guys with us, and to have them all contribute the way they did was a big step for us,” he said. “We had a lot of new guys with us this week, and they were eager to get out on the field. When they did they made a difference. Tyler was a great example of that. I want to say he was the last sub we made, and he only played six or seven minutes or so. But he game in, had a great attitude, worked extremely hard and put himself in a great spot.”
Stockade FC returns home to Dietz Stadium to begin a busy week at 1-1-1, with plans to host New York Athletic Club (1-2-1, 5th place) on Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m., followed by a visit from Hartford City FC (2-2-1, 3rd place) on Sunday, May 26 at 6 p.m.
“We love being at home, and we’re really looking forward to hopefully getting our first win here, and hopefully getting all six points from these first two home games,” said Lis-Simmons.
Kingston contra Brooklyn
After just two days of rest, Kingston will head to the Aviator Sports and Events Center to take on the Brooklyn Italians (2-0-0, 2nd place). For Stockade, it will be their first-ever return to the grounds where they first battled Brooklyn, falling 3-0 after a long, traffic-heavy journey. By then they’ll hope to be six points richer and ready to beat Brooklyn for the first time in franchise history. To do so will require further tinkering with an ever-evolving lineup. Lis-Simmons said the new players and longtime Stockade veterans have blended well together.
“Our atmosphere at training has been really good, and that’s what you want to translate over onto the game field,” said Lis-Simmons. “And I think that’s exactly what happened. Having to navigate the summer, it can be difficult. We have a situation this week where we go Friday-Sunday-Wednesday. That’s why we have a deep roster. No one is going to be able to play every minute of all three games in six days. We’re in the process now of getting availability from all our guys, and I’ll be sitting down with the coaching staff in the next couple of days to try to determine the best path forward.”