Doug McKenzieMonmouth program has a real home-grown feel to it Doug McKenzie Monmouth program has a real home-grown feel to it When Greg Schiano, the highly touted offensive guru from the University of Miami Hurricanes, took over the reins of the struggling Rutgers University football program last year, it was viewed as some kind of rebirth for a team that was struggling to keep its head above water in the Big East Conference. Schiano came in, and with him came an excitement that Rutgers football fans had never experienced before. A young coach who was being billed as one of the top offensive minds in the nation had finally agreed to come to New Jersey to build the national power the Rutgers community always felt it deserved. And from his introductory press conference, Schiano made it clear what his primary goal would be during his first few seasons at the helm. He wanted to establish a program that could keep its own. No longer would the top high school players in New Jersey be traveling outside state lines to launch their college careers. He would establish the type of program that would instill state pride in the blue-chippers who have routinely sought scholarships from Division I schools in other parts of the nation while rarely even considering staying home and playing for New Jersey’s state school. And while he has had some success attracting quality home-grown talent (i.e., Long Branch’s Berkeley Hutchinson), we are yet to see the type of transformation people expected, or hoped for. To be fair, these things take time, and Schiano should not be judged on his success after only one season. But the news coming out of the Rutgers camp has not been promising over the last few weeks, with a number of top recruits (including Hutchinson) being declared academically ineligible and four other players being suspended for breaking team rules — all this while the Scarlet Knights are preparing for a regular season which includes games against top-ranked Miami, Virginia Tech and Tennessee, three teams with national title aspirations. It looks to be another long season for Rutgers football, but again, it’s still too early to dismiss Schiano’s enthusiasm as a mirage. He didn’t get to where he is today by fooling people, and he deserves a fair chance to deliver on his lofty promises. Meanwhile, down by the Shore, another football program is trying to establish the same type of drawing power as Rutgers but is enjoying tremendous success. The Monmouth University Hawks enter this season ranked No. 8 in the nation in the 1-AA Mid-Major Top 10 poll. They return 17 starters from a 7-3 team last year and are expected to challenge for a Northeast Conference title. But the story at Monmouth this year is the recruiting class. Kevin Callahan, the only head coach in the history of Monmouth University football, has brought in what most people feel is the team’s finest recruiting class ever. And a glimpse at the list of new players reveals some of the top high school players from the Shore Conference and its surrounding areas choosing to stay close to home to play for a team that is ready to win now. Guys like Nick Castellano, the Jackson linebacker with a nose for the football, who brings his tenacious style of play to a team that already had a solid defense. Or Brendan Kennedy, the lanky quarterback from Middletown South, who led his team to a state title last year with his brilliant running and accurate passing, becoming the first Shore player to both rush and pass for over 1,000 yards in the same season since 1993. Throw in South’s Mike McClelland, a talented wide receiver who caught 46 passes last season for the Eagles, or Josh James, a bruising All-State tailback from Freehold Borough, and you begin to realize that Callahan is developing a trend here. Some of the top players the Shore Conference has to offer are deciding to stay in the area to play at Monmouth, giving the team a home-grown flavor that will not only help the team improve on the field, but add to the Hawks’ expanding fan base. Interest in the Monmouth football team is being piqued, and with quality local talent flooding the program, Callahan is successfully building a smaller version of the type of system Schiano promised at Rutgers. Building a winning tradition at Rutgers will not be easy. But keeping some of the state’s top football players close to home can be done. After all, they’re doing it in West Long Branch.
Football BY DOUG McKENZIEStaff Writer PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, Middletown South’s Knowshon Moreno breaks through the line of scrimmage during the Eagles’ season-opening home win over Long Branch on Saturday. At left, South’s Rob Kelly makes the tackle on Long Branch’s Francisco Gomez. With week one in the books, things went pretty much as expected for the local high school football teams. The local squads that expected to challenge for division titles, and perhaps more, were impressive, while the teams with lower expectations struggled a bit. Middletown South wasted little time in proving to be the team to beat. The top-ranked Eagles played host to fourth-ranked Long Branch on South’s new artificial turf field, and quite simply, it was no contest. The Eagles used a punishing ground attack and a stubborn defense to dominate the athletic Green Wave, and send an early message to the state. The final score was 33-6, and the actual game was every bit as lop-sided as that score indicates. As expected, junior tailback Knowshon Moreno was the spark that led the Eagles. Playing for the first time on the surface that replaced the renowned “Swamp” at Middletown South, Moreno looked comfortable with the change as he rushed for 183 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns. Behind a revamped offensive line, both Moreno and his backfield mate Trent MacCray (62 yards and a touchdown) found all kinds of daylight throughout the game, as did quarterback Dan Stivala, who rushed for 68 yards and a TD. Middletown South was strong from the start, scoring on all but one series in the first half. Moreno set the tone early, racking up 121 yards on just 13 carries, and getting a pair of TDs. By the time Stivala found the end zone from 28 yards out on a bootleg with just over three minutes left in the first half, the lead was 21-0, and South was cruising. The Eagles then recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kick-off, and three plays later, MacCray was in the end zone on a 10-yard scamper, and at 27-0, with the way the Eagle defense was playing, the game was essentially over at the half. Long Branch managed to get its touchdown in the third quarter on a 15-yard TD pass from Maurice Turpin to Thomas Ellis, capping a 67-yard drive, but the Eagles responded with an 11-play, 69-yard drive, which resulted in Moreno’s third TD of the night, this one from two yards out. In what is expected to be another stellar season for the defending Federal Division and CJ Group III champs, Middletown South got off to a brilliant start. They entered the season with the Shore Conference considering them the best team around. Saturday night did nothing to change that belief. Next up is a trip to Red Bank on Saturday for a rematch of last year’s CJ Group III championship game, won by South. In fact, South beat RBR twice last year, handing the Bucs their only losses of the season. Red Bank, which returns several key players, especially at the offensive skill positions, should provide the Eagles with another tough test, in a game that could very well decide the division title. All this, and it’s only week two. Game time is 1 p.m. The Raritan Rockets welcomed back head coach Bob Generelli in impressive fashion, rolling past Freehold Borough, 37-0. This game was actually more competitive than the final score indicates, as Freehold hung tough with the Rockets through much of the first half, before Raritan blew it open in the second stanza. The Rockets jumped ahead on a 13-yard scoring scamper from QB Andrew Mandeville in the first quarter, then made it 9-0 when Chris Carroll and Mike Plagianakos tackled the Freehold QB for a safety. Freehold recovered a fumble late in the second quarter and drove down to the Raritan 16, but the drive stalled on a fumble of their own. Raritan then allowed junior running back Mike Fitzpatrick to do his thing, rushing four times for 40 yards, before finding the end zone from nine yards out. Fitzpatrick finished the game with 107 yards on 18 carries, and added another touchdown, while Mandeville added a pair of TD passes to Jeff Papcun in the second half to close out the scoring. The Rockets will have their home opener on Saturday when rival Matawan comes to town. The Huskies did not play this past weekend, but should present Raritan with a challenge, with a number of key players returning from last year’s squad. Game time is 1 p.m. The Keyport Red Raiders survived a tough game with Monsignor Donovan to get to 1-0, needing some big plays from their defense in the fourth quarter to hold off a resilient Griffins team, 20-12. Keyport jumped ahead 14-0, scoring a touchdown in each of the first two quarters. R.J. Foster got the first TD, scoring from nine yards out to cap a nine-play, 55-yard drive, while Warren Gumbs raced 89 yards for the Red Raiders’ second score. Gumbs scored again with just over four minutes left in the game from two yards out. But it was the Keyport defense that held strong, forcing two interceptions and a three-and-out series on the Griffins’ final three possessions, to put the game away. Keyport will look for a better all-around effort and a second win on Friday when they head down to West Long Branch to take on Shore Regional — a 31-14 loser to Point Beach on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m. The Holmdel Hornets were the only other local team to get a win on opening weekend, as they knocked off neighboring rival St. John Vianney, 41-13. The Holmdel running attack was in full force on Friday, as the Hornets rushed for 314 yards against the SJV defense, led by quarterback Tom Gorski, who found the end zone three times (63, 11 and two yards). The game was close early on, as the teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter — Holmdel on a 63-yard run from Gorski, and Vianney on a 22-yard scamper from Dave Whittaker. But Holmdel responded with another score (Gorski’s second TD) and entered the second quarter 14-7. The Hornets then opened up the second stanza with a 58-yard scoring run from Austin Misiura, and the lead was 21-7. The same play later in the second quarter sprung Misiura for a 36-yard score, and a 28-7 halftime lead. Holmdel added two more scores — a 50-yard run from Joe Musillo and a two-yard plunge from Gorski — for the final tallies and an impressive opening night win. Holmdel will look to go 2-0 on Saturday when they travel to Manchester. Manchester is coming off a tough 14-10 loss to a good Red Bank Catholic team. Game time is 1 p.m. As for Vianney, they’ll look to turn things around on Friday when they head to Manasquan to take on a Warrior squad that suffered a shocking loss to Pinelands on opening night. Game time is 7 p.m. Like the Lancers, Middletown North had a tough opening night loss against Toms River East, though the game was much more competitive than the 32-7 final score indicates. The Lions fell behind 13-0 in the first half, but came out fired up, as evidenced by Nick Dura’s 54-yard kick-off return. After driving into the red zone, Dura found the end zone from four yards out on an option, and it was a 13-7 game. However, it was all TRE from there, as the Raiders seemed to find their rhythm and reeled off the next 19 points in pulling out the win. The Lions will look to get their first win on Friday when they travel to Brick to take on the defending CJ Group IV champion Brick Memorial Mustangs — a 28-0 winner over Southern this past weekend. Game time is 7 p.m. The Mater Dei Seraphs knew they would be over-matched against a bigger, deeper Rumson-Fair Haven squad, and there were no surprises on Saturday. Rumson was clearly the dominant team, and cruised to a 47-0 win, with all 47 points coming in the first half. The Seraphs will be back in action on Friday when they take to the road to face Monsignor Donovan. Game time is 7 p.m. BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer
For most of its game against Pittsburgh last Wednesday, the Rutgers University Fmen’s basketball team stayed with the nation’s top-ranked team. At one point early in the second half, the Scarlet Knights even held a seven-point lead. Many observers thought it was only a matter of time until one of Pitt’s senior leaders, Levance Fields, Sam Young or Tyrell Biggs, would step up and put the game away for good. And while the Panthers did recover for a 78- 72 victory, it was seldom-used sophomore Brad Wanamaker who made the difference, scoring 13 points over the final 10 minutes of the game, sending the Scarlet Knights to their fifth loss of the season. Overall, Pitt’s bench outscored Rutgers 31-9. “I think, overall, our guys did a very good job with the game,” Hill said. “Our goal is to always get better, and I think we have done that during these last few games. Unfortunately, we had a few empty possessions down the stretch, and that really hurt us.” Hill’s team held a 43-39 halftime advantage thanks to the play of Mike Rosario and Anthony Farmer, who combined for 27 points. The team then opened its lead to seven points on a Corey Chandler threepointer. The teams went back and forth for a while, and with Pitt holding a 62-59 lead with under six minutes remaining, Wanamaker came up big, hitting two consecutive three-pointers to all but clinch the game for the Panthers. “Brad [Wanamaker] was very good for us today,” Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon said. “I have plenty of confidence in him, and now I think people are starting to see why that’s the case. You can go right down our roster and see that everybody really did contribute.” Fields, Young and Biggs accounted for 35 of Pitt’s points. Rosario and Farmer finished with 22 and 20 points, respectively. “Our points today really came from us just getting up and down the court and running,” Rosario said. “I felt like for most of the game, we were active and really hustled.” The Scarlet Knights dropped their third straight game to the University of Connecticut on Saturday night by a score of 80-49. Freshman Gregory Echenique led the team with 17 points and three blocked shots. The team’s next game is at home, against Syracuse on Saturday, also at 7:30 p.m. BY DAN NEWMAN Staff Writer
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer The Keyport High School girls bowling team is off to a dominating 12-0 start in its quest for a second successive NJSIAA Group I title. Coach Sal Principe’s team, 41-4 last winter, will also be looking for its third straight CJ Group I title and its fourth consecutive Shore Conference Northern Monmouth A division crown. Last season Keyport defeated Toms River East, 3-2, in the Tournament of Champions before bowing to Bordentown, also by a 3-2 count, in the championship match. Thus far, the Red Raiders have won three games apiece against Matawan, Keansburg, Mater Dei and Raritan. Principe’s girls also finished 10th in the Bishop Ahr tourney earlier this month. Next up are matches Tuesday against St. John Vianney and Thursday against Keansburg both at Strathmore Lanes. “The girls have been bowling well, but I still think they can get better,” Principe said. “They’re all working hard and they practice on their own, too. That will pay off for us.” Junior Alexa Guirk has been the team’s top bowler, averaging 208 pins with a 687 series to her credit against Matawan. She rolled a perfect game on Saturday in the South Jersey Singles Classic at Ocean Lanes in Lakewood, where she finished in second place in the girls division. Guirk also has scores of 250, 246 and 228 to her credit already this season. Allie Fasano is off to a solid start averaging more than 170 pins. Four years ago she joined the team as a newcomer to the sport and has steadily developed into one of the Red Raiders top kegglers. She has rolled games of 210 and 208 this winter. Devon Loihle, another senior, is right behind with a solid 164-pin average, including games of 206 and 202 against Mater Dei and Keansburg, respectively. Tyler Andrews is averaging about 150 pins out of the fourth spot, while Catrina Ramos and Jessica Grioli are also averaging nearly 150 pins sharing the fifth spot in the Red Raiders. In addition, Heather Flanagan, a sophomore, stepped in a pinch to roll a 158 and junior April Jaurez is averaging 135 pins in limited action. Melissa Grioli and freshman left-hander Sarah Walling provide added depth. Keyport’s boys team, meanwhile, is off to a 6-6 start after going 11-34 a year ago. Senior Ryan Gunsauls, who joined the team as a sophomore in 2007 who has improved regularly to become a team leader, averages 183 pins. Freshman Ryan Ohea has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 190 pins. At the South Jersey Singles Classic on Saturday, he rolled a 565 series to qualify for the round of 16. Other key members of the team include junior Chris Callahan, who averages 150 pins, senior Rusmin Lalic and freshman Nick Gunsauls, both of whom average in the 140-pin range. Rounding out the roster are junior John Zaino, sophomore Alex Bissel and freshmen Tyler Borza and Gary Coleman. “The boys are off to a good start and we’re certainly looking to improve on last year’s record,” the coach said. “A lot of them are very young and we’ll be looking for them to learn a lot this year and make big contributions in the future.” After these week’s matches, both the boys and girls teams will host and compete in the annual Red Raider Holiday Classic on Dec. 29 at the BrunswickZone in Hazlet. Other tournaments on tap for Keyport include the Long Branch Winter Wave Jan. 15 at Shore Lanes and the Brick Tournament Jan. 16 at Ocean Lanes.
By TIM MORRIS Staff Writer The Brookdale Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams celebrated their twin Region 19 titles together on their home floor in the Collins Arena. Brookdale hosted this year’s tournament. BROOKDALE ATHLETICS One is headed to Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., and the other to Rochester, Minn., but they are both pursuing the same goal — a national championship.The Brookdale Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams captured Region 19 championships on their home floors on March 1, and they will now chase a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III championship. Both NJCAA tournaments are on March 13-15. Men’s basketball Paul Cisek’s men will head to New York as the defending champions. The Jersey Blues (29-1) did not miss a beat this year and have been the top-ranked team in the nation throughout the season. The region title, won in the Collins Arena, was their third straight.The Jersey Blues’ championship, however, was anything but routine, as they had to overcome a 16-point deficit before edging Delaware County Community College, 85- 81. Cisek described the win as “well earned.”“[Delaware County] was very good, the best we’ve played,” Cisek said. “We played really, really well, and they just played really well themselves.“It was an exciting game right to the end,” he added.Brookdale was in the unfamiliar position of trailing by nine at the half, 44-35), and that was after trailing by as many as 16 in the first half.At halftime, Cisek put three things on the blackboard — defense, intangibles (turnovers, charges, controlling the 50/50 balls) and marathon (there were still 20 minutes of basketball to play).It took most of the 20 minutes in the second half for the Jersey Blues to catch and pass the Phantoms. With 1:06 remaining in the game, guard David Rosado (Saddle River Day) sank two free throws that gave Brookdale its first second half lead, 80-79.From there, an intense Brookdale defense forced Delaware County to take some bad shots, and Jaimik Moore (Hackensack) dominated the boards. The Jersey Blues made their free throws in the last minute to seal the win and a third straight trip to the national championships.Brookdale was 9-for-10 from the charity stripe in the last three minutes. That’s something that championship teams do — make their free throws when they matter most.Moore (21 points, 11 rebounds) was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.Cory Soanes (Matawan Regional) had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and six steals, and Joe Nickerson (Barringer), despite fouling out, had 16 points and five steals.Off the bench Mason Jones (Manchester Township) gave the Jersey Blues 12 points.Cisek cited a play by Tyrone Curry (Hopewell High School/Charlotte, N.C.) with five minutes left in the game for finally turning the momentum over to Brookdale’s side.“Curry made a great play,” he said. “He dives for a loose ball and calls timeout. After the timeout, we score and the crowd got into it.”Guard Ricky Stephens (Monmouth Regional) was given credit by Cisek for “keeping us under control” after the team fell into the 16-point hole.“[Delaware County was] very, very quick,” Cisek said. “They disrupted our mental thoughts, and we just didn’t play well or under composure at that time.”Stephens helped settle things down by running the offense with more composure, distributing the ball to his teammates in the right places on the floor. With three consecutive region titles and a 90-6 record over the last three years, Brookdale has clearly become the measuring stick for everyone in Region 19. If they can repeat as national champions next week, the Jersey Blues will become the standard for the rest of the country.Having made a few trips to the NJCAA championship before, Cisek knows what the biggest priority is.“You have to win your first game or you can’t win the championship,” he said.Brookdale will play Lincoln College of New England (Southington, Conn.) in its first game on March 13. The Wildcats, the Region 21 champions, are 23-6. Women’s basketball Brookdale’s women are headed to the national tournament for the first time since 2011, and they are riding a 29-game winning streak. They are seeking their first national championship. The Jersey Blues are ranked No. 4 in the country.Brookdale defeated Cumberland County College, 71-54, in the Region 19 finals, avenging a defeat from last year that fueled the team this winter.Last year, the Jersey Blues surrendered a 14-point lead to Cumberland in the semifinals, and that was on their minds when they took to the floor of the Collins Arena for the finals.Lauren Bowler (Red Bank Regional), the tournament MVP, said playing Cumberland “was a reminder of last year. We didn’t want to have that feeling again.”Head coach Bob Dubina’s team overcame the loss of the team’s top scorer and emotional leader, Paxton Reddington (St. John Vianney), to a knee injury 14 seconds into the game in slaying last year’s demon.It was Bowler who stepped up in Reddington’s absence with 19 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.“She carried us,” Dubina said. “It was a tough situation, and we needed a leader.”Bowler didn’t hesitate to take on that leadership role.“Someone had to do it,” she said. “I really wanted to do it.”Bowler had plenty of help, as Marya Trapp (Red Bank Regional) and Sam Carlson (Manalapan) had double-doubles. Trapp had a team-high 13 rebounds to go with 11 points. She also blocked three shots. Carlson had 13 points and 10 boards.Marina Lukianov (Howell) contributed 16 points.Guard Jazmin Palma (North Bergen) spearheaded the defensive effort that held Cumberland (26-3), the sixth-ranked team in the country, to just 54 points.Brookdale was given the No. 4 seed in the national tournament and opens play on March 13 against No. 5-seed Sullivan County Community College (Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.), the Region 15 winner that brings a 25-3 record to the national championships. “They are really excited,” Dubina said about his Brookdale team. “They worked hard for it.“I know they will go compete and fight,” he added.He credited sophomores like Bowler, Carlson, Lukianov and Palma for their season long leadership.“They always gave 100 percent,” he said. “They didn’t want to feel that way again [after last year’s semifinals loss].”Bowler has an opportunity for a very rare double. She was on last fall’s national championship women’s soccer team.“I feel blessed, so lucky to be a part of these two teams,” she said.She said she sees similarities between the clubs.“It’s the chemistry off the court,” she said. “We’re all friends.”That carried the soccer team to a national title, and maybe it can do the same for the basketball team.Cisek and the men’s team stayed around after their win to cheer the women on and celebrate their win. Both teams got to cut down the nets after the women’s triumph.“It’s a great thing for the athletic department to have both teams cutting the nets down and going to the national championship,” Cisek said. “All of it is really, really good.”
Trenton will be the motorsports entertainment epicenter with the nation’s most competitive monster trucks as they invade the Sun National Bank Center Feb. 12 and 13. See these incredible 10,000-pound, carcrushing giants compete in Racing and Wheelie Contests, and then rock the house with amazing Freestyle Action during the Monster X Tour. Tickets and Pit Party Passes are available online at www.ComcastTIX.com, by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the Sun National Bank Center box office. Group discounts are available by calling 609-656-3234. Ticket prices will increase $2 day of show.The Central Jersey Umpire Association is looking for men and women who enjoy baseball and would like to make extra money. The group has many games on weekends, weeknights and weekdays from 7U to summer college level.Cadet training for 2016 will begin in February. Call or email Ron Marino for more info at 732-829-8036 or email@example.com. Experienced umpires wanted as well.
By Ian ChadbandLiverpool’s inspirational captain Steven Gerrard was dropped on the 16th anniversary of his club debut but manager Brendan Rodgers’ surprise decision was vindicated as they arrested their slump with a 1-0 win over Stoke City at Anfield on Saturday.Even though there have been questions over his form and effectiveness at 34 during Liverpool’s struggles this term, Gerrard’s sidelining felt like a shock symbol of their struggles.Yet when the captain was sent on to save the day with quarter of an hour left, amid deafening cheers from the home faithful, Liverpool, still labouring for the breakthrough, soon prevailed through Glen Johnson’s 85th-minute headed winner.The triumph ended a dismal November for Rodgers on a positive note, with his side earning a Premier League victory after three consecutive defeats.Arsenal, gaining welcome relief amid their worst start to a season for 32 years, were left toasting Danny Welbeck after the England striker’s goal earned them a 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.It was the former Manchester United forward’s third Premier League goal – and sixth goal in all – for the Gunners since his move from Old Trafford.The victory, well deserved after Arsenal’s domination, did not stop manager Arsene Wenger having to field questions about a fans’ banner which suggested “Thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye.”“I don’t want to comment on that. I try to do my best for this club that I love,” responded Wenger. “We are very united with the players and staff around the team, that’s all you can do.”Arsenal’s win moved them up to sixth in the table on 20 points, still 12 adrift of leaders Chelsea, even before they played the late game at Sunderland.Manchester United consolidated their fourth place, on 22 points, after first-half goals from Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney and a brilliant, morale-boosting strike from Robin van Persie after the break sealed a 3-0 victory over Hull City.Smalling’s 16th-minute opener, his first for over three years at Old Trafford, was only awarded after recourse to the new goal-line technology, which showed his shot had sneaked over the line.From that point, United dominated en route to their third successive league win, Rooney scoring after 42 minutes and Van Persie, under pressure after insipid performances, scoring a glorious third.Once again, though, an injury clouded United’s joy with record signing Angel di Maria limping off in the first half with a suspected hamstring injury.Queens Park Rangers prevailed in a wildly entertaining and open bottom-of-the table clash at Loftus Road, overcoming Leicester City 3-2 to move above both their opponents and Burnley in the table.Leicester struck first with their 34-year-old Argentina international Esteban Cambiasso an unlikely hero with a fourth minute goal, the visitors’ first in 503 minutes of Premier League football.QPR responded before half-time with Wes Morgan putting past his own keeper in the 37th minute and Leroy Fer striking just before the interval but Jeffrey Schlupp equalised with a long shot, only for Charlie Austin to snatch the points with his 73rd-minute winner.The mercurial Joe Cole, a bit-part player these days, flitted back into the limelight at 33 with the opener for Aston Villa but Burnley, on a roll after two straight league wins, earned a point at Turf Moor when Danny Ings converted a late penalty.Newcastle’s remarkable charge up the table was rudely interrupted at Upton Park as Aaron Cresswell netted the 56th- minute winner for West Ham before visiting captain Moussa Sissoko was shown two yellow cards in the space of a minute.Wilfried Bony put Swansea ahead but Mile Jedinak’s fifth goal in his last eight matches before half-time ensured Crystal Palace earned a 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium.
IT may be the first home game of the season but the stakes are high for APOEL, who have to beat The New Saints to progress to the third round of Champions League qualifying.By Monday, half of the available tickets were already sold for Tuesday night’s match at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, as fans of the Cyprus champions look to push their side over the line in a game they must win, following the 0-0 draw in Wales last week.Thomas Christiansen saw his side dominate possession in the first leg but fail to create clear chances, though he will be hoping that it was simply down to rustiness in what was APOEL’s first official game of the season.Confidence of progression remains high at Archangelos, due to the quality within the ranks as well as their experience in the competition, and the Danish boss will have a full squad at his disposal.Despite the massive task that awaits the visitors, New Saints manager Craig Harrison feels that the pressure will be on APOEL if they “can get to half-time 0-0”, he told BBC Radio Shropshire.The match kicks off at 8pm just as the searing temperature in the capital begins to subside, though the heat will remain on APOEL until they make the breakthrough.
Yesterday’s elimination finals for the men’s and women’s at the Murray Barracks oval had incidents of supporters verbally abusing and threatening match officials and players.POMRFL Operations Manager, Meke Maino said the board will meet this week to decide on what can be done to control crowd behaviour.“If it comes to this, we will ban the supporters from coming to the finals this week and next week and from ever coming to POMRFL games.“The sad thing is that it’s the clubs who will also be fined if there is any damage to property or officials or players are assaulted by their supporters.“While the incidents did not disrupt the games yesterday, it still paints a bad picture of the POMRFL,” said Maino.He commended the work of the PNG Defence Force soldiers who have done a good job so far in keeping the peace and making sure the oval is kept clean.“We had 8 soldiers on duty yesterday, we would love to have more on duty at games but our budget doesn’t allow for it. People just need to learn how to respect each other,” said Maino.
“We could not have done it without the support of all our partners, members and families. Our work involves working with different people and we’d like to thank all those who participated in our programs and campaigns throughout the year,” said Rapilla.“I hope that we have inspired Papua New Guineans through the positive messages of our programs and the achievements of our own Team PNG athletes.”Rapilla said 2017 will be another big year for PNGOC with three international events in its sporting calendar. These are the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas, from July 19 to 23, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, from September 15 to 24, and the Pacific Mini Games, which will be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, from December 4 – 17.“PNGOC wishes everyone a wonderful Christmas and a successful New Year and looks forward to working with all the partners and stakeholders for another interesting and exciting sporting year,” said Rapilla.