Midfielder Ansi Agolli snapped a scoreless draw in the 72nd minute to lift the New York Cosmos to a 1-0 victory over the Brooklyn Italians to win the North Atlantic Conference crown of the National Premier Soccer League playoffs at the Mitchel Athletic Complex on Wednesday night.
New York, which earned its first trophy of the season as the conference champions, advanced to the Northeast Region playoffs after securing the win in the hard-fought game. The team will host the Northeast Region Final next week.
Goalkeeper Paul Blanchette recorded the clean sheet, the Cosmos’ 11th this season.
On the lone goal, captain Danny Szetela penetrated deep into the penalty area on the right flank and sent a pin-point diagonal pass to Agolli to the far side. The Albanian national team captain fired a 25-yard shot into the right side of the net.
The Cosmos dominated early action of the opening half, forcing goalkeeper Alexander Ashton to make four saves in the battle between the two rivals.
His first save came against Ricardo Bocanegra only 61 seconds into the match. After a nice pass from Bledi Bardic, Sal Barone was stopped by Ashton’s one-handed save in the seventh minute.
Bardic, who connected for a first-half hat-trick against the Italians in a 4-1 Cosmos win last month, tried to break the ice from distance as he blasted a 30-yard shot that Ashton stopped in the 25th minute. Isaac Acuna tried a header in the 38th minute, but Ashton made the save.
Bocanegra had yet another close encounter in the 63rd minute as he drilled a shot from distance off the crossbar.