The Xikis Cup Comes Back To Long Island

Horsham, PA (6/20/21) - In a weekend filled with tremendous highs and lows along with a lot of emotion, LISFL United won the Gus Xikis USASA Region 1 U23 Cup on Sunday afternoon. LISFL United is an All-Star U23 team created by the Long Island Soccer Football League that features some of the top young players from local region that are playing in the league's highly successful Ryder-Vass U23 tournament.

Following the untimely passing of Gus Xikis in 2020, the Board of Directors decided to create an All-Star U23 team to send to the 2021 Regional Finals held every year on Father's Day weekend. Earlier in 2021, the USASA Region 1 Executive Committee had decided to rename the U23 Cup after Gus Xikis who was a long time member of the committee serving as the Cup Commissoner and President of the LISFL.

The LISFL BOD decided to name Danny Diliberti as Head Coach, Vincenzo Diliberti as Assistant Coach, and David Harris as Team Manager. Danny Diliberti had previously won the LISFL Ryder-Vass U23 Tournament as Head Coach of the ISA U23 team. Diliberti is also the current Assistant Coach at the Pratt Institute. As the spring college soccer season started to draw to a close, player recruitment began and tryouts were held shortly after to begin the process of selecting the team.

The weekend in Horsham started with a difficult 4-0 defeat to West Chester United's "Predators" team, which is a perennial tournament favorite. Diliberti quickly got to work to prepare LISFL United for their next game, which essentially was a "must win" game. After going down 2-1 to Annandale Boys and Girls Club, LISFL United bounced back in the second half to pull out a 3-2 win.

The third game of the day ended up as a forfeit by Philly Fever Grey so LISFL United were awarded a 3-0 win. After some initial confusion regarding the results of the other games in the group, it turned out that LISFL United had qualified for the tournament semi-finals. West Chester Predators tied Philly Fever Grey by a score of 0-0 and could only manage a 2-2 draw with Annandale. LISFL United finished with six points, which secured them a semi-final match vs Christos FC.

On Sunday morning, LISFL United started very strongly jumping to a 2-0 lead over Christos. In the second half, LISFL United scored another goal to give them a commanding 3-0 lead. Despite a late goal from Christos, LISFL United held on for the win and a spot in the tournament finals that seemed very unlikely only 24 hours before.

As the temperature increased on an already warm day in Pennsylvania, LISFL United prepared to face a very strong Jackson Lions team that had some impressive results leading up to the final. In the second half, LISFL United took a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick that was successfully converted. Jackson Lions battled back to tie the game at 1-1, which was how the game ended. The teams went straight to penalty kicks to determine the winner and LISFL United goalkeeper Patryk Siwiec was able to save one of the Jackson Lions penalties. The LISFL United shooters converted all 5 of their kicks, which resulted in tournament win for the team from Long Island.

Many of the officials from USASA Region 1 and the ENYSSA along with members of the Xikis family and LISFL BOD were on hand to present the trophy and medals to players from Long Island United. It was an emotional moment for everyone that knew Gus and saw how much he contributed to soccer throughout his life. The sadness of the loss of a loved one and close friend was mixed with the thoughts of the happiness Gus would have felt seeing a team from the LISFL winning the cup named after him at their first attempt.

USASA Region 1 Director Anthony Falcone gave a very emotional speech that described the many contributions Gus Xikis made to soccer throughout the region and country. Falcone explained how Xikis fought to keep many of the USASA Cups active in Region 1 when some of the other regions decided not to have them anymore.

After the big win, LISFL United Head Coach Danny Diliberti said, "I was honored that they considered me to coach this team . This was an excellent group of young men. The boys came together as a family and played with heart and desire. I am happy we were able to honor Gus with a trophy that bears his name."

Rocco Avallone, President of the LISFL issued the following statement after the win, "The Long Island Soccer Football League is excited to be the League that has the USASA Region 1 U-23 National Champions. Back in February at the USASA AGM, I proposed to the Region 1 Director Tony Falcone that the U-23 Region 1 Trophy be named after our prior president, Gus Xikis, who tragically passed away. As a result, the LISFL decided to enter a team in honor of Gus Xikis in this year’s U-23 tournament. I retained Danny Diliberti to coach the team and asked that he try to get as many players from the LISFL to go to Pennsylvania during the Father’s Day Weekend and honor our league in memory of Gus Xikis. With the help of David Harris, Danny Diliberti, Vinny Diliberti and myself, we were able to get 19 players from Long Island to travel to Pennsylvania. The team practiced together for approximately 2 months. The LISFL also invited Candi Xikis, Gus’ wife and her 2 children, daughter-in-law and grandchild to he our guest and honor us with their presence. Region 1 presented Candi Xikis with a lovely crystal award with Gus Xikis’ name engraved on it in recognition of the newly named trophy for the U-23 Championship.

The LISFL team was proud to honor Gus Xikis by winning the U-23 Region 1 National Tournament and bringing the U-23 Gus Xikis Trophy home to Long Island where it belongs. Gus must have been looking down on us today and gave the players the tenacity and will power to over come all obstacles thrown at us during these last 2 days and got us to play as a team and prevail. I'd like to recognize the people behind the scenes that got us the were we are today – Terry Uellendahl, Joe Brosi, David Harris, Vinny Diliberti, Yuri Fishman, Kostas Manessis, and Danny Diliberti."

 

LISFL United U23 Team

Player Club / College
Nicholas Addamo Fairleigh Dickinson University
Mateo Barahona SUNY Morrisville
Kameron Blaise SUNY Stony Brook
Zane Brown Central Connecticut State University
Rafael Castro Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Marcelo Chacon Adelphi University
Mason Chetti Manhattan College
Chandley Elie SUNY Morrisville
Ryan Essigman Molloy College
Randy Gomez New York Irish Rovers
Stephen Hollis Bloomsburg University
Emmanuel Karavangelas Asteras New York
Michael Laing SS Cosma Damiano
Rohan Laing SS Cosma Damiano
Ryan Mehryari Molloy College
Jimmy Noel Hartwick College
Patryk Siwiec Doxa SC
Jason Yanes Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts