Keep your friends close but your enemies closer could very well be the motto for a new-look Jersey Shore Boca team. This past fall JS Boca merged with local rival Soccer Post for the benefit of both clubs and so far it’s been a recipe of success.
A newcomer to US Open Cup qualifying, JS Boca is a game away from clinching a birth in the first round of the Open Cup. The team that stands between them and that goal, however, is a Region I giant. NY Greek American Atlas is a four-time Open Cup champion and a winner of five of the last 11 Eastern New York championships.
“We know that NY American Atlas is a very strong club that has had a long winning tradition,” JS Boca Club President Guy Lockwood said. “We have never seen them play, but we know that they are at the top of the Cosmopolitan League and have a lot of experience at high level competition.”
JS Boca defeated Go Soccer, the New Jersey state champion for the past three years, 5-4 in penalties on Saturday March 24 after the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Goalkeeper Robert Feeney denied Go Soccer’s Matt Heitmann’s final round shot giving Boca’s Dane Feeney the opportunity to kick for the win.
Two key veterans, Tomas Banionis and Vasili Foukarakis, lead JS Boca. They are joined by two young newcomers, Tommy Gray and Michael Pezza. NY American Atlas fields a former MLS player, Chris Megaloudis, who scored in Atlas’ win over Battery Park Gunners (Maryland).
“The main reason we entered this tournament is to play top teams like the NY American Atlas,” Lockwood said. “We have been playing in the [Garden State Soccer League] for many years now. We have a number of league championships and a few state cup championships, however after winning these championships we have always wanted more.”
The teams will clash this Saturday with the winner advancing to the Open Cup. The loser will have one more opportunity to advance as well, taking on either Maryland Bay (MD) or Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks (DC/VA) in the third place game.
Our club would be extremely excited to qualify for the US Open,” Lockwood said. “We want to keep pushing ourselves and increase the level of our play. I think every player will be striving to win. We all want top competition and want to keep increasing the intensity of our game.”