Matawan knocks off Warriors to remain undefeated BY DOUG McKENZIEStaff Writer BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer FARRAH MAFFAI staff Fans of Keyport High School football have grown accustomed to watching Ken Cattouse look over his shoulder as he leaves the opposition in his wake. In fact, Cattouse has been so prolific over the course of his career that he is on the verge of becoming the state’s all-time leading rusher. When the Keyport Red Raiders travel to Freehold Borough on Saturday, there will be more on the line than just first place in the National Division. While a win will get the undefeated Red Raiders (5-0) a step closer to another division title, all eyes will be on their tailback, senior Ken Cattouse. Fresh off another spectacular performance (182 yards and four touchdowns) in Keyport’s 54-14 win over Point Beach on Saturday, Cattouse is now just 108 yards shy of the New Jersey career rushing record. Based on his performances throughout his brilliant career, it’s a safe bet to assume he’ll get the record on Saturday. After all, Cattouse has never disappointed in a big spot. Just ask his coach, Mike Ciccotelli. “He’s the best back that I’ve ever had,” he said. “He does a little bit of everything, and has tremendous vision on the field. There’s not much more to say about him. He’s the best.” When asked where he feels Cattouse ranks with the best backs the Shore Conference has put out, Ciccotelli admitted it’s hard to judge, since Keyport plays a Group I schedule, while other standouts, like Red Bank Regional’s Eric McCoo, faced Group III and Group IV competition. However, Ciccotelli added that Cattouse is the type of player who would succeed at any level. “At the right place, he’s going to do some big things,” he said. The right place is rumored to be Iowa University, the first school to recruit Cattouse as a sophomore. A formal announcement of his collegiate destination is forthcoming, but first there are more immediate matters at hand — namely, defending a Central Jersey Group I title. The Red Raiders are the class of the National Division once again, and will look to erase any thought Freehold Borough (3-1) has of dethroning them early on. “It’s going to be a tough game,” Ciccotelli said. “They’ve got a lot of guys back and are talented.” Ciccotelli added that he hopes his team can avoid getting off to a slow start, something they’ve struggled with thus far. “We’ve been dealing with that all year,” he said. “We need to play well from the beginning. I think we’ve had one complete game all year against Shore Regional.” The Red Raiders fell behind early to Point Beach on Saturday, as the Garnet Gulls followed an early interception with a three-play scoring drive to go up 6-0. But Cattouse returned the ensuing kick-off 21 yards, and then tied the game with a 66-yard run on the next play. From there, it was all Keyport, as Cattouse scored twice more before the half (from 33 and 10 yards out), and J.J. Bedle chipped in with a 16-yard TD pass from Kevin Boyce. Meanwhile the Red Raider defense dominated, forcing five consecutive punts, pulling down two interceptions and recovering two fumbles. In other words, Keyport got its act together rather quickly, and the Garnet Gulls had no answers. This Saturday’s game should provide Keyport with a stiff test, but with Cattouse running toward the record books, the Red Raiders should be ready to play from the opening whistle. Game time is 1 p.m. The Matawan Huskies also kept their perfect season intact this past Saturday, and enacted a bit of revenge while doing so. After losing to Manasquan the last two years, coach Joe Martucci’s squad entered Saturday’s game anxious to prove themselves this year, and did so with a 32-13 win at Warrior Field. The Huskies took the early lead when they capped a five-play, 80-yard drive with a 66-yard TD on a screen from A.J. Roque to George Williams. But after Manasquan blocked a punt on the Huskies’ next possession, the Warriors took a 7-6 lead on a 7-yard TD pass from Dan Impagliatelle to Kevin McNamara. But it was all Matawan from there. The Huskies responded with a 53-yard TD strike from Roque to Williams, and then scored again to start the second half when Jason Haskins capped a 13-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard TD plunge. Manasquan managed to get another score, but Matawan put the game out of reach with Haskins’ second touchdown of the day on the ensuing drive. With the win, the Huskies improved to 5-0, as they prepare for Saturday’s game against Point Boro. Don’t let Point Boro’s 1-4 record fool you, as they, too, have defeated Manasquan this year. Game time is 1:30 p.m. in Matawan. The Raritan Rockets remained perfect with a 21-7 win over Monsignor Donovan. Head coach Derek Sininsky’s squad used three first-half touchdowns to distance themselves from the Griffins, while the Rocket defense played flawlessly. But the second half was a different story, as Mon Don controlled the play, despite scoring only one touchdown, which came late in the fourth quarter. After the game, Sininsky said that his team may have been looking ahead a bit to its next game on Oct. 24 against Wall Township (3-1). While that would explain their poor play in the second half against Donovan, they now have two weeks to dwell on what is their biggest game of the year to this point. Top-ranked Middletown South didn’t blow anybody out this past weekend, but that’s only because they didn’t play. The Eagles used their bye week to prepare for Federal Division rival Manchester, a team that has struggled a bit after getting off to a fast start. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at the Swamp. The St. John Vianney Lancers also used their bye week to get ready for this Friday when they take on rival Red Bank Catholic at 7 p.m. at Count Basie Field in Red Bank. RBC is coming off a tough 14-6 loss to Wall Township. Middletown North will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 12-0 loss to Lakewood when they travel to Ocean Township to take on the 2-3 Spartans on Friday at 7 p.m. Holmdel was also blanked this past weekend, falling to Neptune, 26-0. The Hornets will look to their second win of the year on Saturday when they travel to Little Silver to take on a Red Bank Regional team coming off a 34-14 win over Manchester. Game time is 1 p.m. Mater Dei fell to 1-3 with a 41-20 loss to Shore Regional on Saturday, and will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday with a home game against Monsignor Donovan. Game time is 1:30 p.m.
Softball team No. 1 and baseball No. 3 in the country BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer SCOTT PILLING staff Brookdale softball coach Bo Scannapieco and his Jersey Blues are up to their old tricks again, earning the nation’s top ranking with another superb season on the diamond. This spring has marked an extraordinary time for Brookdale Community College. The school’s softball team is ranked No. 1 in the country among Division III junior colleges, and the baseball team, which plays in Division II, is ranked No. 3. Both are legitimate national championship contenders. “It’s pretty impressive,” said athletic director Jack Ryan. Both teams will take their first steps toward the national championships this week when the Region XIX tournaments begin. The baseball team, 34-1 and riding an impressive 33-game winning streak, is already assured of the top seed and a bye in the first round (Saturday and Sunday). Brookdale will host the tournament May 6-8. The softball team is shooting for an equally impressive 10th straight Region title. The Blues did not get a first-round bye and will play a double-header on Saturday, starting at noon, against either Bergen or Burlington. If a third game is necessary, that game will be played Sunday in Lincroft. The winner will advance to the Region Tournament, which is being hosted by Gloucester this year on May 6-7. “Baseball has always been one of the top programs in the Northeast,” said Ryan. “Paul MacLaughlin, a Hall of Fame coach, won 856 games. “This team  is special,” he added. “It has won 31 straight and surpassed the old record of 22. Just like our softball team, they are good and they are prepared.” Ryan can take pride in what the baseball and softball teams are accomplishing because he was behind the hiring of both head coaches, Johnny Johnson in baseball, and Bo Scannapieco, softball, the architects of these teams. Scannapieco was Ryan’s assistant when he coached the softball team and was the logical choice to replace him. Ryan hired Johnson in 1998. Both Johnson and Scannapieco had something in common. “It’s great having former players coach the team,” said Ryan. “Brookdale developed them.” Both Scannapieco and Johnson played baseball at Brookdale under Hall-of-Famer MacLaughlin. Scannapieco came back to be an assistant under MacLaughlin before moving over to assist Ryan with the softball team and then becoming the head coach. More than 500 wins later and a national championship (2002), Scannapieco has turned the softball team into a perennial national power. “Bo is one of the most dominant coaches in the Region and nationally, in all sports,” said Ryan. “Bo’s level of excellence is mind-boggling. He works hard, does things the right way and knows all the details that make a good player.” Johnson had the toughest shoes to fill in replacing MacLaughlin, whose baseball teams first put BCC athletics on the map. Ryan never doubted that Johnson — MacLaughlin’s ex-player — was the right man for the job. “No. 1, he had been successful coaching baseball at Red Bank Catholic and Bloomfield College, and he had been an assistant at Monmouth University,” said Ryan. “He had a very strong pedigree.” Scannapieco and Johnson have something else in common besides their Brookdale backgrounds. Both are excellent recruiters. They work as hard bringing the best student-athletes to the Lincroft campus as they do coaching them. They are out there in the public getting many of their players from their home base in the Shore. All Brookdale teams, be it softball or baseball, basketball or soccer, have benefited from Ryan’s and the school’s philosophy of playing the best. “We believe in playing as tough a schedule as you can,” he said. “It prepares you for the Region tournament.” There can be no arguing with the success. The men’s and women’s soccer teams have all made it to the national championships. The same can be said for the basketball teams. The baseball and softball teams have both made the national junior college championships a home base, as has the men’s tennis team. Then, there are the players themselves. Scannapieco and Johnson have both put together powerhouse teams that are dominated by Shore-area talent. Both coaches were optimistic about their teams before the season started, and nothing they have done on the field this spring has changed their outlook. The baseball team is on an incredible roll, having won 31 straight games and already won the Garden State Athletic Association crown. Catcher John Romano is the top hitter in the country, bashing the ball at a .528 clip (56-for-106). He has 16 doubles and five home runs, and has scored 41 runs and driven in 42. Joe Arminio (.486), Joe Schiettino (.472), Jon Marzella (.425), Robbie Hine (.425), Dave Lorber (.418) and Nick Mullins (.409) are all hitting over .400. The Blues are explosive, averaging more than eight runs a game. Not to be lost in this offensive barrage is just how strong the pitching staff is. Billy Lawson and Chris Coulson are both 7-0 and ranked first and fourth in the country. Lawson has a 0.735 ERA and Coulson a 1.200. Scannapieco’s Blues are 36-8 and had a 17-game winning streak at one point during the season. Brookdale has a very deep rotation that features three strong starters in Cherise Malatais, Elyse Papaianni and Erin Covell. Maltais is 13-2 with a 1,6328 ERA, Papaianni is 11-4 with a 1.643 ERA and Covell is 8-2 with a 1.776 ERA. In third baseman Jessica Williams, the softball team also has a national hitting leader. She leads the country in four offensive categories — batting average (.418), doubles (19), home runs (six) and RBIs (50). Williams has had plenty of help with Kara Hertzke (.417) and Leah Minnick (.393) tied for second in the nation in RBIs with 32. Allyson Weinkofsky has scored 41 times and is batting .359. Lynn Olender is batting .388 and has a team-best 48 runs scored. Brookdale’s softball and baseball teams are exciting, in addition to being two of the best in the country. Saturday will be the last chance for fans to see Scannapieco’s Blues in Lincroft this year. The baseball team will be home throughout the Region tournament starting next weekend.
The Jersey Coast Cheetahs took first place in the Under 8 Female division this past weekend at the 2005 Kick-It 3v3 World Championships, the pinnacle of Team Championships International’s 2005 Kick-It 3v3 Soccer Tour, the largest 3v3 soccer tour in the world. Team members include Sydney Hicks and Samantha Wanzor, of Jackson, Amanda Visco, of Manalapan, Cassidy Poklemba, of Freehold, and Kristen Ramos, of Holmdel. As one of the most highly-attended events at Disney’s Wide World of Sports® Complex in Florida, the three-day tournament hosted 750 teams, including more than 4,500 of the best 3v3 soccer players across the globe, and drew more than 50,000 spectators. The Championship Title earned the Jersey Coast Cheetahs the coveted Kick-It Cup and No. 1 spot in the Kick-It 3v3 National Rankings, which will be revealed during GolTV’s 30-minute special airing Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. The girls will have the opportunity to defend their title and ranking, as well as qualify for the 2006 World Championships, scheduled for Jan. 13-15, 2007, at local Kick-It events this season: June 24-25 in Buffalo (Clarence), N.Y., or Philadelphia (West Chester), Pa.; July 8-9 in Hartford (New Britain), Conn.; July 15-16 in Baltimore (Bel Air), Md., or Providence (South Kingstown), R.I.; July 22-23 in Albany, N.Y.; and July 29-30 in Boston (Lowell), Mass. The road to the 2005 Kick-It 3v3 World Championships began last spring when players of all ages and skill levels participated in one of the tour’s 55 local tournaments. Based on their performance, teams advanced to one of 10 Regional Championships, with only the top five teams in each division moving on to the World Championships.
BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent Holmdel hopes to capture NJSIAA group title Following the Hornets’ victory in the Monmouth County Tournament, Holmdel High School boys tennis coach Chuck Chelednik foresaw the rematch against Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, that took place in last week’s Shore Conference Tournament final. Holmdel once again topped the Colts and secured the program’s fourth consecutive Shore Conference title. The Hornets won all five contests in the SCT final on May 9, less than two weeks after defeating CBA to win the county championship for the fourth year in a row. It was another achievement for the Hornets, especially for a Holmdel senior class that has been with the team since the start of this incredible run.“I told my guys, ‘You’re going to get their best,’ since CBA wanted revenge after the county tournament,” Chelednik said of the rematch. “Overall, my guys stepped up to the challenge.”Holmdel seniors Daway Chou- Ren and Daniel Tu have held starting roles since the first SCT title.Chou-Ren, who has played at third singles for four years, won his match against Anthony Dein ofCBA, 6-4, 6-3. Tu won at second doubles alongside sophomore Sam Joynson, defeating CBA’s Henry Manley and Mark Robinson, 7-5, 6-3. Mike Li and Ganesh Natarajan, the other two senior starters for Holmdel, form the first doubles team. They took care of CBA’s Mike Montanelli and Mike O’Malley in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3.At first singles, junior Derek Liu won his match at first singles over Nick Sharwarko of CBA, 6-2, 6-2. Freshman Mike Chen, who starts at second singles, remained undefeated with a 6-1, 6-2 win over CBA’s Peter Cangialosi. Another SCT title gives Holmdel’s seniors even greater motivation to compete for a group title in the NJSIAA state tournament. Holmdel won its section last season but lost in the first round of group play. This year, the Hornets want to take it one step further and go to the group finals.“We want to just have a chance to play the big schools in the Tournament of Champions,” said Chelednik, who added that his expectations haven’t changed since the beginning of this season. “I think we can play with them. It’s just a matter of having focus and playing good tennis.”Holmdel (11-1) earned a top seed and bye week in the state tournament. The Hornets went on to defeat Arthur L. Johnson High School, 5-0, in a Central Jersey Group II quarterfinal. They were scheduled to play Rumson-Fair Haven in the semifinals on May 16 after the Bulldogs won their quarterfinal against Red Bank Regional, 3-2. The Central Jersey Group II final is set for May 18.CBA (14-1) is the top seed in South Jersey Non-Public A, and the Colts defeated Holy Spirit, 5-0, in a quarterfinal matchup. CBA was slated to play the May 16 semifinals.
170 Dillon Stambaugh (RBR) dec. Kyle Lynch (RAR) 2-0 182 Chris Pappayliou (LB) dec. Anthony Fabiano (MN) 4-3 4 Raritan 128 10 Red Bank Catholic 35.5 132 Jason Bohal (RAR) dec. Zach Hertling (OT) 5-1 120 Max Rallo (OT) dec. Dylan Seidenberg (RAR) 4-3 5 Christian Brothers Academy 91 11 Keyport 24 Team scoring 6 Middletown North 69.5 195 Mike Oxley (CBA) major dec. Shawn McCord (RBC) 11-1 145 Luke Balina (LB) by injury default Orion Rovegno (OT) 113 Dom Franciosi (MS) major dec. Costa Poniros (OT) 8-0 152 Andrew Blasco (MS) dec. Jake George (LB) 5-2 126 Erik Beshada (CBA) dec. Marcus Iwama (RFH) 9-8 160 Nick Pappayliou (LB) pinned Connor Sheehan (RAR) 5:55 106 Cole Bisaccia (RFH) dec. Carl Vasti (CBA) 5-0 138 Nick George (LB) dec. Christian Casselli (CBA) 7-1 Third-place winners 103-Michael Jones (LB), 113-Tom Flannigan (LB), 120-Andy Hernandez (LB), 126-Anthony Scarcella (RAR), 132-Nicholas Menkin (LB), 138-Carlos Fontanez (KB), 145-Mathew Best (MS), 152- Evan Brown (RBR), 160-Jason Lawhon (OT), 170-Tyler Wilton (MN), 182-Tommy Lyster (OT), 195-Chad Freshnock (MN), 220-Tylere Tomanek (MS), Heavyweight-Patrick Toal (RAR). Most Outstanding Wrestler- Jason Bohal, RaritanCoach of the Year- Danny George, Long Branch 3 Middletown South 130.5 9 Red Bank Regional 41 2 Ocean Township 151 8 Rumson-Fair Haven 44 220 Jacob Bell (OT) dec. Joey Guidetti (LB) 4-2 1 Long Branch 186.5 7 Keansburg 51 HWT Trevor Finn (MS) dec. Dan Arias (OT) 3-2
MIDDLETOWN NORTH By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown High School North’s girls basketball team comes off back-to-back 16-win seasons. However, a young team with only three seniors on the roster and no starter taller than 5 feet 7 inches this year faces a daunting challenge to match or exceed that total.Coach Ed Jones is optimistic for a competitive season in the Shore Conference A North Division, particularly after his rebuilding team battled through two overtimes in its Dec. 20 season-opening loss to Howell High School. Middletown North finished second in the division last season to Middletown High School South.“They have a great attitude,” Jones said. “They come to practice every day working hard. In our first game, we didn’t lose for lack of effort. We made more mistakes than Howell. We have to cut down on turnovers and play better.”Five-foot-seven forward Marissa Reilly and guard Ashley Bird are the lone returning starters from last year’s 16-8 team. That squad won its first holiday tournament in a number of years at Pequannock Township High School, and opening-round games in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III and Shore Conference tournaments against Allentown High School and Toms River High School South, respectively. The Lions lost in the second round of the Shore Conference Tournament to perennial power Rumson- Fair Haven Regional High School.They played in Red Bank Regional High School’s Buc Classic during the holiday break.Middletown North lost in the opening round, 44-40, to the host team on Dec. 29 and played Hudson Catholic Regional High School in the consolation game the following day.“We led for 39 minutes and, when we were ahead by two points, then they got a steal, a layup and a free throw, and that was it,” said Jones, who praised the all-around game of Reilly. The Lions were 16-9 in 2011-12 for their best record in five years. Middletown North would’ve had some height with 5-foot-9 starter Courtney Davis returning, but she is out with a knee injury that will sideline her indefinitely.“She may not return,” Jones said.“We’re learning everybody’s strength,” said senior guard Emilia Weaver, who is starting after missing most of last season with back problems.Weaver is joined by 5-foot-7 junior center Kayla Morford and 5-foot-6 freshman forward Hailee Hallard.“We all get along and are working hard, and know if something’s going wrong, we keep fighting,” Weaver added.What also prides Jones is that his players, like the ones who graduated from last year’s team, are good students. Reilly ranks near the top of her class.The players are filling the void left by graduates Megan DeGrushe, who is a heavily used reserve guard at nationally ranked Brookdale Community College; Emily Lavin, a forward who starts at Eastern University; and Nicole Tollevsen, who plays at The Catholic University of America. Jones said last year’s team succeeded because of good chemistry and players keeping to their roles. Tollevsen was reliable from long range, and Lavin and Davis grabbed many rebounds.“So far, it looks good,” Reilly said. “The younger girls look up to us as leaders. We had so many seniors. Everyone’s working together as a team. We don’t have a star player [this year].”Jones said he sees the leadership in the older players.“The seniors are proud to be part of two 16-win seasons, and [they] want to establish themselves for this season and be better,” he said.“The younger players are doing really well and are adjusting very quickly,” Weaver said. “They follow what we do.”Those players include 5-foot-8 sophomore forward Danielle Terek, 5-foot-6 junior forward Alex Barriero and 5-foot-6 freshman forward Kamani Williams; as well as guards Julia Ferrari, Kristen Lenich and freshman Allison DeGrushe, Megan’s younger sister.
By Patrick JohnstonMercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made it two poles in two races after emerging unscathed from an incident-packed and rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.The Briton saw off Red Bull’s quadruple Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel by 0.055 of a second in a session with two red flags, a 50 minute rain delay and more downpours throughout that left drivers struggling for visibility.The pole was the 33rd of Hamilton’s career, equalling the British record held by the late Jim Clark since 1964, and was secured in a time of one minute 59.431 seconds.“I’m really happy with how well we’ve done over the weekend, but today was incredible, how heavy was the rain?” Hamilton told reporters.“It was tricky out there for everyone because at the end it was almost impossible to see. I couldn’t see where the track went, where the corners were, where to break.“I had to bail out of my final fast lap, so it was very close.”Vettel’s lap was an impressive turnaround for the German, who retired in Melbourne two weeks ago, after he was called back to the pits after only three laps of the first phase of qualifying with an energy store problem.The champion re-emerged after a reset of the system and became progressively competitive as the rain grew stronger and felt he could have taken pole had he been able to get in another lap in the final 15 minute session.“At the beginning of Q1 (the first phase), the heartbeat was rising very quickly when we realised there was an issue,” Vettel said.“Q3 was not perfect. I would have loved to have a second go. My first attempt, I felt there was time to gain here and there.“It was very close, too close. I should be on the good side for tomorrow but it depends on how good the start is. I’m happy with the result.”ROSBERG STARTS THIRDHamilton’s Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, winner in Australia, will start from third place with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso joining him on the second row despite an earlier collision with Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso that required hurried repairs.Alonso was on the outside and turned into Kvyat with the incident being investigated by the stewards.“I didn’t see him coming, Obviously it was a little bit of an aggressive move on the out-lap with that sort of visibility,” the double world champion Spaniard said.Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg finished seventh with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen eighth as he and his team chopped and changed with intermediate and wet tyres throughout as they struggled to second guess the weather.Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne and McLaren’s Jenson Button rounded out the top 10 with Williams once again struggling despite some promising pre-season tests.Felipe Massa will start in 13th and Valtteri Bottas 15th.Stewards were also investigating whether or not the Finn blocked Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified fifth, on a flying lap.“He was on his out-lap. I’ll have a word with him,” said the Australian driver, who was disqualified after finishing second in Melbourne because of a fuel flow issue.Lotus’s woes continued with Romain Grosjean complaining about his car after finishing 15th, while team mate Pastor Maldonado failed to make it out of the first phase and will start in 17th.The first phase of qualifying ended 30 seconds early after Swede Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Caterham, hit the wall before flying back across the track leaving debris and almost hitting Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber.
By Iacovos ConstantinouAEL continued their march towards their second league title in three years with a 2-0 win over Omonia while their nearest rivals APOEL squeezed past a resilient Anorthosis. In the relegation battle, Aris moved out of the danger zone for the first time in months with Doxa Katokopias moving in the other direction.“When you create six to seven goal-scoring opportunities against one of the meanest defences in the league and fail to score you will be punished,” said dejected Omonia coach Costas Kaiafas after the game.AEL took the lead through a Monteiro sixth minute goal but the visitors stormed back and missed some glorious chances to equalise with Skembri and Efraim the main culprits. AEL weathered the storm and gradually eased their way into the game. On the stroke of half-time Idabdhelay made the game safe for AEL when he took advantage of a blunder by Omonia defender Serfa.Anorthosis always seem to lift their game against APOEL and Sunday was no exception. Despite collecting just one point in ten games they were by far the better side and could have wrapped up the game in the first half had it not been for some outstanding saves from APOEL’s keeper Pardo.Both sides missed chances after the break and it was APOEL who were fortunate enough to break the deadlock through Vinicius following some poor defending by the home team. However Vinicius’ celebrations were deemed excessive by referee Panayi and he was yellow-carded, meaning he will miss the crunch game against AEL on Tuesday week.Apollon avenged their cup exit at the hands of Ermis Aradippou last Wednesday and thumped four past them. Lopez scored a hat-trick with Gaston Sangoy getting the fourth. With this win Apollon kept their hopes of a Champions League finish alive even though they trail second-placed APOEL by five points.Aris Limassol took a huge leap towards safety when they managed with ten men to come from behind and defeat Doxa Katokopias 3-1. Doxa took the lead through Leandro but goals from Yousef, Pintceli and Dina gave the three points to the Limassol outfit.Ethnikos Achnas and Nea Salamina shared the points in a 1-1 draw, with the Ethnikos president Kikis Philippou laying the blame on some dubious refereeing decisions. Ethnikos are now level on points with Doxa with Aris just a point ahead.AEK Larnaca defeated AEK Kouklion by a solitary Mitides goal and it appears that the team from Kouklia will be heading back to the second division next year barring a miraculous comeback as they are eight points from the safety zone.
By Steve KeatingRoger Federer and Stan Wawrinka shrugged off the threat of rain to storm into the U.S. Open semi-finals on Wednesday, while Simona Halep stood up for the younger generation to complete a women’s final four that will feature three thirtysomethings.Moved from the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to Louis Armstrong to bring Federer’s match forward, Wawrinka appeared untroubled by the change of venue, needing just an hour and 47 minutes to repel big-hitting South African Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4 6-0.Second seed Federer turned in an equally economical effort, brushing aside Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-3 6-1 in a tidy 87 minutes to set up an all-Swiss semi-final on Friday.The other side of the draw features a battle of the big men, with top seed Novak Djokovic taking on defending champion Marin Cilic.“Emotionally it’s not so hard for me,” said Federer, who holds a commanding 16-3 advantage over his Davis Cup team mate and reigning French Open champion.“But subconsciously, you know he knows what your preferences are, where you like to go and where you’re probably going to go,” he added“That’s the weird part. I feel we meet each other somewhere in our minds before the point is being played out.”Federer and Gasquet are both armed with elegant one-handed backhands but apart from that aesthetically pleasing stroke, there were very few similarities in their lopsided contest.The 17-time grand slam winner could hardly miss and Gasquet all too often played the role of innocent bystander as the Swiss maestro uncorked 50 winners to a mere eight from the 12th seeded Frenchman.‘I’M READY’Anderson, meanwhile, lacked the energy he displayed in a fourth round upset of third seed Andy Murray, allowing Wawrinka to dictate play for large stretches of the match.The South African, who leans heavily on his serve, could manage just nine aces and one break point the entire match, which he was unable to convert.“I’ve improved a lot over the past three years and feel much closer to his level now,” Wawrinka said of his compatriot.“He is playing really well here so I will need to be at my best. He’s had some amazing matches and I know it will be a big challenge but I think I’m ready.”Halep moved closer to a first grand slam singles title after edging Victoria Azarenka 6-3 4-6 6-4 to set up a meeting with Flavia Pennetta, who toppled Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-4 6-2 to join compatriot Roberta Vinci in the last four.Defying the odds, rankings and age, 33-year-old Pennetta and 32-year-old Vinci etched their names in history by becoming the first two Italian women to reach the semi-finals of the same grand slam in the Open Era.With 33-year-old Serena Williams also in the last four, 23-year-old Halep will be conceding almost a decade of experience to her remaining challengers.“Of course we are a little bit old for the age of tennis right now,” Pennetta admitted. “But we are here and still fighting.”However, the dream of an All-Italian final will require some special magic, particularly from Vinci, who has the daunting task of facing three-times defending U.S. Open champion and world number one Williams.
Former Nigeria defender Stephen Keshi, who won the African Nations Cup as both a player and a coach, died of a suspected heart attack on Wednesday, the country’s football association has confirmed.The 54-year-old coached Nigeria to the Nations Cup title in South Africa in 2013, 19 years after lifting the trophy as a player, only the second man after Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary to achieve the feat.Keshi is regarded an iconic figure in a golden generation of Nigerian players that includes Finidi George, Rashidi Yekini, Jay-Jay Okocha, Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi and Sunday Oliseh, captaining the team at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.During a 20-year playing career, Keshi had spells in France and Belgium, most notably for Anderlecht, and also in the US during the Sacramento Scorpions’ brief existence in the mid-1990s.He found almost instant success as a coach, leading Togo to surprise qualification for the 2006 World Cup, one of three spells in charge of the side. He also had a two-year stint with Mali.He took over the Nigeria national team in 2011 and while overseeing an overhaul of the squad, took a young team to the continental title two years later.Despite a strong showing at the World Cup in Brazil in which the side lost in the second round to France, Keshi did not have his contract renewed, though he did later return to lead the team on a match-by-match basis.His tenure with the team was finally ended in July last year.Keshi’s wife Kate died last December after a three-year battle with cancer. The couple had four children.