Kingston Stockade FC supporters looking for a return to normalcy got their wish last Saturday, as 807 fans poured into Dietz Stadium to see the home side thoroughly dominate visiting National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) foe Boston City FC. It was the first home game in three weeks for Kingston, and the first following a statewide relaxing of COVID-19 protocols.
Though their home grounds are separated by over 200 miles of highway, Stockade FC and Boston City FC have a sometimes bitter rivalry that stretches back to Kingston’s inaugural 2016 season, which saw them drop a pair of games. Counting this weekend’s win and a 2-2 draw at the Tyngsboro Sports Center on May 21, Stockade FC holds a 4-2-1 advantage since 2016.
The bitterness of the rivalry manifested itself in physical play on the pitch, with two yellow cards awarded to Boston City players and one to Kingston’s Ryan Langkafel, a midfielder from Carmel. There were other acts of aggression that might have been called throughout, like a second half moment deep in Boston territory when a defender draped himself over Stockade co-captain Scott Zobre like a wool blanket. The deeply partisan crowd let the officials hear it on that play and many others that appeared to show a Boston side either acting out of frustration or looking to light a fire on an intermittently rainy evening.
Though much of the first half was spent on the Boston side of the field, it wasn’t until the 42nd minute when Stockade untied a scoreless knot on a deftly placed rocket across the goal by Vinny Colantuono off a bizarre mistake by a defender who headed the ball away from the approaching goalkeeper. It was Colantuono’s team-leading fifth score of the season.
Kingston doubled up in the 66th minute when co-captain Matt Koziol picked a Boston player’s pocket, then sent the ball across to the left side of the pitch to Hugo Guerra, who sent it under the goalkeeper’s sprawling defense. First-year player Petro Klishch capped the scoring in the 88th minute with his first ever Stockade goal.
It was a vintage Stockade FC performance on the pitch and in the crowd, with the Dutch Guard drumming and leading chants, the crowd joyously erupting with each Kingston goal, Spike Vrusho’s satirical The Fence Post zine was there, the taunting crew who sit atop a minibus just beyond the far fences were there, all of it creating an atmosphere that’s a clear advantage for the home team that others in the division don’t share. Goalkeeper Dylan McDermott, who trained with Stockade in 2019 before making his debut this season, experienced his first true home crowd on Saturday in a game where he played 84 minutes before Lorenzo Nunez wrapped the clean sheet in goal.
“The energy of Kingston, it’s definitely the best crowd in all of the NPSL, and any team that comes here and has to deal with like the loudness and it’s tough for them,” McDermott said. “Having the crowd is like a 12th person playing with us.”
Head Coach Jamal Lis-Simmons was equally effusive in how much the home fans mean to Stockade FC.
“There’s just nothing like it,” said Lis-Simmons, a defensive stalwart and team captain during Kingston’s first three years before he took the coaching role ahead of the 2019 season. “We feel lucky and fortunate to play in front of our community like this. Eight-hundred plus? Yeah. It’s an awesome thing, man. The guys thrive on that energy. It’s just a great atmosphere.”
Club chairman Dennis Crowley said that while it was nice to let in 200 fans for the first game of the season, and then increase to 500 fans shortly after, over 800 fans felt “like a secret weapon” and “a superpower.”
“It just feels kind of long overdue,” said Crowley. “The crowd’s been growing and growing, and the enthusiasm has been growing, and I think the chemistry and the team’s been growing, and then it all comes together on a beautiful day when everyone’s out here.”
After the game, Lis-Simmons said he was happy with his team’s aggressiveness on offense.
“That was the game plan going in,” he said. “When we were up in Boston, it was really a tale of two halves. First half we gave them way too much freedom to just play. The second half we put them under pressure, created a lot of opportunities and we were fortunate to leave with the point. So tonight going in, we wanted to put them under pressure right from the start. And I thought guys followed the game plan, and it was good. Good to get three goals. Good to get three points. Good night for our whole team.”
Through seven games this season, Stockade FC is the sole unbeaten side in the NPSL’s East Region Conference’s North Atlantic Conference Division. They sit solely atop the division with a 4-0-3 record, with the second best offense (16 goals) and the stingiest defense (4 goals allowed.) With three games remaining, a postseason bid is all but secured. Just don’t tell that to anyone on the team.
“One game at a time,” said Lis-Simmons. “Our backline has played really well from the beginning of the year, and this is another shutout for us, so we’ll take that. At this point we’re facing teams for the second time, so they’ll have some adjustments, and we’ll have our own that we’ll make. But I like our chances. Our guys are working hard and giving me everything they’ve got.”
It’ll take everything Stockade’s got to stay atop the division when they travel to Newton, Massachusetts on Saturday, June 26 to face off against Valeo FC, the second place team who trails Kingston by just two points. Valeo FC has scored the most goals in the division with 23, though 15 of those have come in two games against Greater Lowell Rough Diamonds, the North Atlantic punching bag, which has rolled out the red carpet against opponents this season, scoring just three goals and allowing 36. Kingston will get their second shot at Greater Lowell on Saturday, July 3 with the final home game of the regular season at Dietz Stadium. Stockade FC closes out its regular campaign with a visit to Afrim’s Sports Park in Schenectady to face off against the New York Shockers; Kingston opened the season on Saturday, May 5 with a 2-0 home win over the Shockers.
The Saugerties Stallions saw a six-game winning streak snapped last week, but they were back to their winning ways with a 19-2 Father’s Day win at Glens Falls in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) action.
The Stallions and Dragons battled through two scoreless innings before the visitors put two on the board in the top of the second inning. With the floodgates open, the Stallions galloped through, scoring in each consecutive inning, capping it off with a seven-run ninth.
Dom Marcoccio earned the win on the mound, striking out five and allowing just two hits in four innings of shutout work. Kip Fougerousse (HR, double, 5 RBI), Jack Renwick (2 triples, 2 singles, 5 RBI, 3 runs), Cade Verdusco (double, single, 2 runs) and Jarrett Brown (double, run) helped key the explosive offense.
The Stallions’ week began on Tuesday, June 15 with a 7-4 home win against Oneonta, a game that saw the home team open up a good lead early, then hang onto it over the remainder of the game.
Fougerousse smacked an RBI single to give the Stallions a 1-0 lead in the home half of the first, and Tyler Kelder smashed a two-run homer to extend the lead. Renwick came home on an RBI groundout by Colin Mackle in the second, and in the fifth Kelder singled Fritz Genther home to give Saugerties a 5-0 lead.
But between the sixth and eighth innings the Outlaws fought back, pulling to within one run when A.J. Gaich doubled Jacob Hand home. But the rally would not last, and in the home half of the eighth Jakob Marquez drove in a pair of runs to slam the door shut.
Ben Johnson earned the win for the Stallions with 3.1 innings of shutout work, striking out five and giving up a pair of walks. Rey Rodriguez picked up the save, striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
The following day saw a visit from Glens Falls, with the Stallions prevailing 7-3. Andres Auffant hurled five innings in the starting role, with reliever Kai Janowicz earning the win. Saugerties took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning of the game and never looked back.
Saugerties scored a pair of runs in the crucial sixth, with Noah Berghammer and Albert Jennings each driving in a run. The Stallions jumped out to a 6-2 advantage one inning later, starting with Tighe’s RBI double. Brown and Andrew Wilhite each picked up RBIs in the inning.
On Friday, June 18, the Stallions hosted the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs at Cantine Field, winning 11-4. Gene Napolitano opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with an RBI single that brought Marquez home. Verdusco crossed the plate later in the inning on a Mackle sacrifice fly to give the Stallions a 2-0 advantage.
Saugerties’ offense erupted with seven runs in the home half of the third, with a double by Mackle, and RBI singles by Kelder, Napolitano and Josh Stevenson among the highlights.
After a pair of runs by Mohawk Valley, the Stallions tacked on a pair in the eighth with a two-run dinger by Napolitano. The DiamondDawgs picked up two more of their own in the top of the ninth before Rey Rodrigues closed it out.
Zach Byron earned the win for Saugerties, going four innings and giving up four hits and one earned run.
The sole blemish on an otherwise outstanding week came in a 10-4 home loss to first place Amsterdam on Saturday, June 19.
Fougerousse put the home team on the board in the bottom of the first with an RBI single, with the 1-0 lead holding until the top of the sixth when Keith Jones evened the score with an RBI single for Amsterdam.
Everything unraveled for the Stallions in the top of the seventh, with pitcher Jack Walker one strike away from getting out of the inning. Walker doled out four straight walks, followed by a bases-clearing double by Jones to give the Mohawks a 7-1 lead.
By the bottom of the ninth Saugerties trailed 10-1, and though they valiantly refused to give up — homers by Gunner Gouldsmith and Wilhite were the highlights — it was not meant to be.
Bryce Reimer started for the Stallions, giving up a pair of hits while striking out two over five innings of work. Aaron Cohn took the loss, allowing four hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The Stallions are 11-4 on the season, two games behind Amsterdam in the PGCBL’s East Division. Saugerties is on the road at Amsterdam on Tuesday, June 21 before returning to Cantine for a two-night stand against Amsterdam and Oneonta on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.