BY ANDREW DAVISON Staff Writer Aveteran lineup gives Middletown High School South soccer coach Tara Ernst assurance of surpassing last year’s five victories in her inaugural season as head coach there, and the team took its first solid step on Friday, Sept. 17, when it beat crosstown rival Middletown North, 3-0. “We played with a lot of heart. We played like a team,” said Ernst, as Middletown South raised its record to 1-2 after losing its opener to Howell, 4-0, and losing in overtime to Shore Regional, 2-1, when it lost a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes left. Lauren Van Exter, who had one shutout in goal while starting as a freshman last year, did not face many serious threats as Middletown South held a 22-4 edge in shots. Bridget Skinner, one of a number of promising sophomores on the team, who started at center midfield last season, scored the only goal needed at 37:20 on a volley from eight yards out off a header from junior outside midfielder Tara Cangelosi. Ashley Pankey, a sophomore forward, started the play with a throw-in. Sam Ciesmeleski, one of seven seniors on the roster, scored at the 48th minute when Cangelosi crossed the ball to the far post. Brenna Anderson, a senior center midfielder coming off ACL surgery who missed most of the preseason, capped the scoring at the 56th minute when she ran onto a ball sent by sophomore transfer Christine Anselmi. The teams split their two meetings last season, with Middletown South winning the second time, 4-0. Senior sweeper Annmarie Vuono, sophomore stopper Emily Murphy and outside backs senior Natalie Hayes and junior Laurelyn Guglielmo drew praise from Ernst for their defensive efforts in the victory, which is instrumental for the team’s ongoing success with big games coming up against Manalapan and Freehold Township in Shore Conference A North. “The main thing last season was not about positioning but kicking the ball away,” said Ernst, who lost only four players from last year’s team, all in support roles. “I said to them, ‘When you pass the ball, make it count.’ ” But Ernst said she is most pleased about the cohesion the team is showing. “They play well as a team. They control the ball more, and the captains are good at executing that,” said Ernst, referring to Anderson, Vuono and Hayes. Juniors Kelly McQuade at forward and Kira Jarostchuk at outside fullback have experience as starters last year, but Ernst said she also can turn to seniors Jackie Melore as a midfielder and forward, Bri Introcaso as a fullback, and Kristen Turkovic, who is getting back into playing shape from an injury.
By Tony JimenezROBERTO Martinez’s improving Everton, buoyed after landing their first victory at Manchester United for 21 years, will try to end another long barren run when they visit Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday (6pm).Everton have not won at the north London club since Andrei Kanchelskis scored the winner in a 2-1 triumph in January 1996 and the odds are again stacked against the visitors this weekend.Arsenal are four points clear of second-placed Chelsea, having not lost at the Emirates in the league since they were surprisingly beaten by Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.“In football you need to go through disappointments, bide your time and wait for an opportunity,” Martinez told reporters after a late goal by deputy left back Bryan Oviedo secured a surprise 1-0 victory at champions United on Wednesday.“There is a real sense of pride because we came here with a real determination to be ourselves and I think we did that.”Oviedo, who also struck in fifth-placed Everton’s 4-0 rout of Stoke City last Saturday, is only in the side because of an injury to England fullback Leighton Baines.“It’s been frustrating for him but he has shown he’s ready and taken the opportunity to help the team,” Martinez added.“He has brought two goals in two games but more importantly he’s shown defensive concentration in those games too. He’s a real example.”Jose Mourinho hailed Chelsea’s best awayday of the season after a thrilling 4-3 victory at bottom club Sunderland on Wednesday and the manager will hope for a repeat effort at Stoke City on Saturday (5pm).Belgian winger Eden Hazard gave a scintillating performance, scoring twice for the 2012 European champions and also laying on a goal for vice-captain Frank Lampard.“Hazard was unplayable,” said Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet. “I don’t remember a player performing at this level against me as a manager.“We tried everything. We needed another football,” said the former Chelsea midfielder.Mourinho’s men come up against another former Stamford Bridge favourite at the weekend in Stoke manager Mark Hughes.Hughes made an encouraging start after taking over from Tony Pulis in the close season but Stoke have struggled in recent weeks and need a win on Saturday to ease mounting relegation worries.Third-placed Manchester City will be looking for revenge on Saturday (5pm) after producing one of their worst displays of last season at Southampton.City were shambolic in defence as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the south coast club but Manuel Pellegrini’s team have been electric up front in recent weeks and could be meeting Southampton at just the right time.Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost 3-1 at Chelsea last Saturday before going down 3-2 at home to Aston Villa four days later.Luis Suarez will aim to continue his midweek scoring exploits when fourth-placed Liverpool entertain West Ham United at Anfield (5pm).The Uruguayan netted four times in a 5-1 thrashing of Norwich City on Wednesday to go top of the league scoring charts with 13 goals.Champions United, down in ninth position following their defeat by Everton, host Newcastle in Saturday’s early kick-off (2.45pm) while sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur travel to Sunderland (7.30pm).The other games on Saturday feature Norwich travelling to West Bromwich Albion (5pm) and Cardiff City visiting Crystal Palace (5pm).Third from bottom Fulham entertain Aston Villa on Sunday (3.30pm) while Swansea City host Hull City on Monday (10pm).
By Alan BaldwinSACKED Manchester United manager David Moyes thanked his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson on Wednesday for having given him the opportunity to lead the Premier League club.In a statement issued through the League Manager’s Association (LMA), the Scot spoke of his pride at being chosen last July and acknowledged fans had a right to feel frustrated by results since then.He spoke warmly of the United staff but, perhaps pointedly, not the players.“I remain proud to have led the team to the quarter-finals of this year’s Champions League and I remain grateful to Sir Alex Ferguson for believing in my ability and giving me the chance to manage Manchester United,” he said.Ferguson stepped down last year, when United won the title, after 26 years in charge.Moyes was sacked on Tuesday after only 10 months with United currently seventh in the league and out of the running for a Champions League slot next season.Newspapers reported on Wednesday that Ferguson, who last year urged fans to get behind the new man, had supported the decision to sack Moyes and would play a role in the appointment of the next manager.Moyes said he was and would always be “incredibly proud” to have been appointed manager of United.“Taking charge after such a long period of continuous stability and success at the club was inevitably going to be a significant challenge, but it was one which I relished and never had a second thought about taking on,” he said.“The scale of the manager’s job at United is immense, but I have never stepped away from hard work and the same applies to my coaching staff. I thank them for their dedication and loyalty throughout the last season.”United have an urgent need to revamp their ageing squad and are expected to ship out several high-profile players once the season is over.Moyes said he had already been working on that when the owning Glazer family decided to call time, the manager informed of his dismissal on Tuesday after details had been widely leaked to the media.“We were fully focused and committed to the process of the fundamental rebuilding that is required for the senior squad,” he said in his statement.“This had to be achieved whilst delivering positive results (in the Premier League and Champions League).“However, during this period of transition, performances and results have not been what Manchester United and its fans are used to or expect, and I both understand and share their frustration.”Moyes said he had seen in his short reign just how special it was to work at Old Trafford and the training ground.“I would like to thank the United staff for making me feel so welcome and part of the United family from my first day. And of course thank you to those fans who have supported me throughout the season. I wish you and the club all the best for the future,” he said.“I have always believed that a manager never stops learning during his career and I know I will take invaluable experience from my time as United’s manager.”LMA chief executive Richard Bevan said United had handled the dismissal in an “unprofessional manner”.“The LMA is very disappointed with the nature of David’s departure from Manchester United and to read extensive reports in the press, confirming David’s sacking, before David himself had been spoken to officially by the club,” he said.
By Josh ReichAS a depleted England prepare for the first of three Tests against New Zealand on Saturday many are questioning the wisdom of taking on the world champions in their own back yard 15 months before hosting the World Cup.Coach Stuart Lancaster has made steady upward progress since taking over from Martin Johnson following the 2011 World Cup and has repeatedly stated that he wants England to be number one or two in the world when they host the next tournament.He has refused to shy away from taking on the best of the southern hemisphere nations and knows that his relatively inexperienced squad need to test themselves against them and the the lessons learned may prove invaluable down the line.The alternative view is that much of the good work could be undone if the ruthless All Blacks expose England’s frailties and that Lancaster would then have little time to rebuild their confidence, and reputation.England’s cause is hardly helped by the fact that they will play the first Test with a virtual shadow team – giving Lancaster something of a ready-made excuse should things go wrong.A group of players departed for New Zealand last week and a further 16 from Premiership finalists Northampton and Saracens, as well as Bath and Harlequins, left on Monday but are unavailable for the first Test in Auckland on Saturday.England’s first three-Test series in New Zealand had the potential to be a mouth-watering clash between the All Blacks, unbeaten in 2013, and an England side who have beaten the men in black only twice in New Zealand, but were victorious at Twickenham in 2012 and went close to a repeat last year.Instead, the vagaries of the international calendar mean the visitors are shorn of many of their leading lights for the first Test, including flanker Tom Wood, fly-half Owen Farrell and centre Brad Barritt, making an already difficult assignment even tougher.The timing of the tour, a week after Northampton’s dramatic extra-time victory over Saracens in the Premiership final, has come in for much criticism.The first Saturday in June had been set aside as an international rest day by the International Rugby Board, meaning the first Test should have been played on June 14.However, it was argued that instead of the first Saturday, it should be interpreted as meaning the first weekend, which meant Sunday June 1 was designated as the international rest day, despite coming less than 24 hours after the Premiership and French Top 14 finals.That allowed the Eden Park Test to be crammed in six days later, putting Lancaster in an impossible situation of having to consider up to 60 players for the tour, which also includes a midweek clash with the Canterbury Crusaders.“It’s not ideal when you come to play the world champions in their own backyard and don’t have your best side available,” Lancaster said.“But it’s a situation I inherited. The scheduling is done way in advance. We’re not going to sit and moan about it.”Lancaster has worked hard to strip away the arrogance that once surrounded the England side, with their last two trips to New Zealand in 2008 and 2011 notorious for off-field drama.They were just pipped by Ireland to this year’s Six Nations championship, and the 44-year-old Lancaster has gone about creating a new culture within the side.It is undeniable that a good effort in New Zealand can propel England to the World Cup in a positive frame of mind.In 2003, a strong England side beat the All Blacks 15-13 in Wellington, despite having Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio yellow-carded, and with self-belief at an all-time high no England fan needs reminding what happened in Sydney five months later.France have shown more than once what having a psychological hold on the All Blacks can do in a big-match situation, the 2007 World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff being a prime example, and England forwards coach Graham Rowntree acknowledged the impact victory over the All Blacks could have.“That was a significant win for that group of players, who went on to win the World Cup,” he said, referring to the 2003 win.“It was a stepping stone and that’s what this is for this group of young players.“Pitching yourself against the best at Eden Park – it doesn’t get any better or harder than that.”Unfortunately, the first Test in particular may end up an exercise in damage limitation, with the home side unbeaten at the ground in almost 20 years, and it could set the tone for a series that may potentially do more harm than good to England’s long-term prospects.Lancaster is building a solid core of experienced internationals, but multiple thrashings 15 months out from the World Cup could set back their progress.“It is less than ideal for England to start with an incomplete group of players to whom will be added almost another team and to whom the players from first Test will have to give way,” former England hooker and Daily Telegraph columnist Brian Moore wrote.“Lancaster will have to revise both his strategy and formations almost in their entirety. Meanwhile, the All Blacks will have an effective Test-paced warm-up with their full team and by the time the real battle commences will already be one up in the series.“The one comfort for Lancaster is that when the absentees and others are aggregated he has a decent set of players. However, that has been apparent for some time and it is finalising the starting squad and XV that has always been his major task.”
By Simon EvansSuspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he was a “ball in a big political power game” involving the United States and Russia in an interview in which he also criticised UEFA’s Michel Platini for playing a part in attacks on him.In the interview with Russia’s TASS news agency, the 79-year-old Swiss also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and said Russia would never lose the 2018 World Cup despite calls from some quarters in Britain.Blatter is serving a 90-day suspension imposed by FIFA’s Ethics Committee which is looking into a two million Swiss franc payment he made to Platini in 2011 – a case which is also part of a Swiss criminal investigation.Blatter, who has been president of FIFA since 1998, said politics was behind “attacks” on him which followed the indictment of 14 football officials and sports marketing executives by US prosecutors in May.“At the beginning it was only a personal attack. It was Platini against me. He started it, but then it became politics,” he said in the interview published on Wednesday.“And when it is in politics, it is not any longer Platini against me. It is then those who have lost the World Cup. England against Russia. They lost the World Cup. And the USA lost the World Cup against Qatar.“But you cannot destroy FIFA. FIFA is not the Swiss bank. FIFA is not a commercial company. So, what they have done together with the Swiss, they have created this attack towards FIFAand the president of FIFA,” he said.“And you are from TASS and you know what are the problems between your country and the US The FIFA World Cup or the FIFA president is a ball in the big political power game,” he said.Denouncing England as “bad losers” for missing out on the 2108 World Cup to Russia, he said: “In Great Britain they have made this beautiful game, they have introduced fair play. But there was only one vote going for England. They were eliminated in the first round. Nobody wanted to have England”.Blatter said Russia’s preparations for the tournament were going well and he had warm words for Putin whom he described as a “good friend of Joseph Josephovich”, referring to himself in Russian style.“You know what I like in Russia also is that in difficult situations I still have the full support of President Putin. This is good. And I support him in all discussions, in all situations,” he said.“ENVY AND JEALOUSY”Blatter, who said he regretted not standing down as he initially planned in 2014, argued there was “envy and jealousy” of FIFA’s commercial success but rejected the suggestion that the current crisis at FIFA was a de facto ‘American takeover’ of the body.“Personally I don’t think so. Because even speaking about the American takeover of FIFA – football, the real football, where is the real money, where are the good players, the good competition – it’s Europe. They cannot take it. It’s not the way Americans would have business. I don’t think it is in their business thinking.Blatter said FIFA’s Ethics Committee, whose decision he is appealing, had bowed to pressure to remove him.“I think it was the pressure of the media. It was the pressure to get rid of the FIFA president. Unfortunately, Platini was in the same boat. And they wanted to say – We, Ethics Committee, we are not at the service of the president, we are totally independent. This is wrong.“They can be independent but they don’t need to be against me,” he said.Blatter suggested Swiss media coverage of him was tainted by “primitive” prejudices about his origins from the small canton of Valais.But after 17 years in football’s top job, Blatter said he hoped he would be cleared in time to leadFIFA’s congress on February 26, which will elect a new leader.“If God is with me, I do hope that I’ll be back as president of FIFA. Then I could at least conduct this congress. This is my dream,” he said.
Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson forged an epic duel in the final round of the Open and they ride into the season’s final major, the PGA Championship at Baltusrol, on a wave of momentum and inextricably linked in golf lore.That may seem odd in a sport where there is a winner and a loser, but the masterly battle between winner Stenson, who fired a record-tying 63, and runner-up Mickelson, who shot 65 to finish 11 shots ahead of third place at Royal Troon, set a standard for major golf finishes.“I’m just delighted I managed to win it in the end,” said Stenson, 40, who set an Open record with a 20-under total in winning his first major championship.“When you hear the words that Jack (Nicklaus) and Tom (Watson) and a lot of the best players that have ever played the game are giving us credit for how we played, that’s obviously very pleasing and very humbling.”Mickelson, who won the 2013 Open at Muirfield, finished on 17-under, a total that would have won 141 of the 145 Opens played. He said the finish was deflating but at the same time he found strength in how well he played.“I think it’s the first time in my career that I have played to that level of golf and not had it be enough to win a tournament,” the five-time major winner told reporters this week.“That’s a disappointing thing because I would have loved to have added another Claret Jug.“I don’t look back on the final round with anything that I would have done different, other than maybe go over to Stenson’s bag and bend his putter a little bit. That’s probably the only thing I could have done and had a chance.”BALTUSROL RETURNMickelson won the second major of his career at the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol, the last time the course in New Jersey hosted a major.“Because I am playing well, I don’t want to lose an opportunity, another really good opportunity that I have to play a PGA Championship here at Baltusrol at a course I like, while my game is sharp, and let the effects or disappointment linger.“What I want to do is just play to that level that I played at the Open. I have to try to believe that it will be enough this time, if I’m able to duplicate that performance.”Stenson and Mickelson, 46, thrilled the galleries at Troon and millions of golf fans around the world watching the broadcast and inspired other aging players with their bravura performances.“It’s a boyhood dream come true and something I wanted to achieve all my life, and then it finally happened,” said Stenson, the first Swede to win a men’s golf major.“You’re never going to get to the point where you’re maxed out in your ability and how you’re playing, so there’s always that strive to become better. I got a little perfectionist in there that’s always been pushing me forward…“So I think I’ve still got a good few years in me and I’m going to try and keep on developing, and if you don’t, these young guys are going to come up and take over. So I still think I’ve got a bit of fight in me.”Mickelson, 46, believes he has more years of great golf ahead.The big lefty said the way he learned to play golf, quieting the body down and using the length of the arc and swinging motion of the club to develop speed, helped him stay healthy.“I think that that has really helped me to play successfully in my mid-40s without having injury and having repercussions of having practiced so long for so many decades.“I don’t believe that there is a small window,” he said. “I think there’s a really big window of opportunity to add to my resumé.”
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City career got off to a winning start as they beat Sunderland 2-1 on Saturday but the Spaniard knows there is much work to do to build a title-winning team.Paddy McNair’s late own goal gave the hosts victory on the opening day of the Premier League season after Jermain Defoe’s Sunderland strike had cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s early penalty.City dominated possession but were short on the incisive attacking play that was a hallmark of Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams.“Sometimes you are a little lucky,” City’s new manager told reporters. “We should have been a bit more aggressive but these kind of things have to happen to know how to get better in the next game.”The match was an intriguing glimpse into what the fans can expect from Guardiola.He showed his ruthlessness by dropping England goalkeeper Joe Hart to the bench and completely omitting Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure.“They are professionals,” Guardiola said, “and are going to fight for their places.”He acknowledged it would take time for City to adapt to his methods although there was evidence of a new approach.Captain David Silva started in a deeper midfield role from where he was expected to instigate attacking moves while the full backs came inside to congest the middle, in a similar way to Bayern under Guardiola.“I’m very pleased about the performance,” said the manager. “The second half we played really well.“Maybe we should attack quicker. We have to learn.”
The Hunters were under the pump right from the kick off; forced to defend in their own half in the opening minutes.But solid defence denied the Seagulls early points.After weathering the storm, the Hunters went on the counter attack and found the try line in the 12th minute through Justin Olam.Ase Boas converted the try to take a 6-0 lead.But the Seagulls continued to ask questions, threatening to score dominating possession.The home side finally broke through the Hunters’ defence in the 31st minute when Sam Saville scored.The Hunters hit back six minutes later after good ball movement by Wartovo Puara Jnr put Adex Wera over the line.
Photo Getty Images. Caption: Napoli celebrate It looked as though Juve were going to preserve their four-point advantage at the summit with four games to play and edge closer to a seventh successive Scudetto only for Koulibaly to throw the race wide open.Compounding Juve’s last-gasp defeat is the fact Massimiliano Allegri’s men arguably have the tougher run-in of the two sides, with the Derby d’Italia away to Inter coming up next Saturday, and a clash with Champions League semi-finalists Roma awaiting in the penultimate round of fixtures.Napoli, meanwhile, seeking to win a first Scudetto since 1989-90, when they were inspired to a second title in four seasons by the great Diego Maradona, visit Fiorentina next weekend hopeful of seizing on any further slip-ups from the leaders. La nostra immensa gioia #ForzaNapoliSempre pic.twitter.com/cyP4rFdsjf— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) April 22, 2018Napoli enjoyed an early sight of goal when Lorenzo Insigne fired wide in the first minute, and the passage of play proved costly for Juventus, as Giorgio Chiellini sustained an injury that ultimately forced him off 10 minutes later, having failed to convince in his attempts to shake off what appeared to be a muscle problem.With full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner introduced and Benedikt Howedes shifting to centre-back, Juve went close for the first time in the 17th minute, Miralem Pjanic’s deflected free-kick wrongfooting Pepe Reina and striking the far post, leaving the Napoli goalkeeper stranded. His counterpart Gianluigi Buffon had to be alert to tip over a dipping cross-cum-shot from Mario Rui, who then slid in Marek Hamsik for the best chance of the first half in the 24th minute, only for the Napoli captain to drag his attempt across the face of goal and wide.Insigne had the ball in the back of the net seven minutes before half-time, but Lichtsteiner smartly stepped up to catch his opponent offside.Allegri responded to his team’s underwhelming first-half showing by withdrawing Paulo Dybala in favour of Juan Cuadrado, while Maurizio Sarri introduced the fit-again and in-form Arkadiusz Milik a minute past the hour mark, taking off the relatively ineffectual Dries Mertens.Substitute Piotr Zielinski tested Buffon from long range with seven minutes to go in what had been a tense second half, and the goalkeeper also had to claw away an awkward Jose Callejon delivery.From the Spaniard’s subsequent corner, Napoli grabbed the all-important goal, Koulibaly rising above the Juve backline to head home a powerful winner, the final whistle sparking wild celebrations among the visitors and ensuring a thrilling conclusion to the title race.9️0️Kalidouuuuuuuuuu️ #JuveNapoli 0-1#SerieA#ForzaNapoliSempre#grintaecuore pic.twitter.com/7gmgptoPIt— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) April 22, 2018
Apoel have decided that they will not be renewing the contract with their championship winning Danish manager Thomas Christiansen.The decision was reached on Thursday afternoon after a meeting between Apoel’s leadership and Christiansen.According to unofficial reports, the decision not to renew his contract had been taken well before Wednesday’s cup final and that it would not have changed even if Apoel had won the final.Among the reasons mooted for the change in management were a difference in the Dane’s remuneration package and crucially the team’s poor performances on the field, especially towards the tail end of the season.Christiansen joined Apoel last June from AEK Larnaca and succeeded in leading the Nicosia team to their fifth consecutive title, the last 16 of the Europa League and the Cup final.