Hakoah overcame a rocky start to best AS Menora New York 8-5 in a friendly match at University Stadium on Sunday.
The home side were stunned to concede a goal just 21 seconds into the match, as a Menora midfielder played a high ball toward the Hakoah area that bounced over defender Mathieu Gouverneur and into the path of an onrushing Menora forward who beat Alex Nazarov to put Menora ahead 1-0.
Whether it was the shocking start that unsettled the team or just the effects of the long winter layoff, in the early going Hakoah looked nothing like the team that had won its last four matches by a combined 28-7 last fall. After about 10 minutes of shaky, tentative play, things began to change as the attacking tandem of Saeed Sulemana-Baba and Jonah Silk began to find the ball and stamp their authority on the game.
Sulemana-Baba set up the first of four straight goals for the sky blues as he stretched the Menora defense on the dribble and then dropped the ball off to Silk who slotted the ball into the far corner to equalize. Silk struck again in the 24th minute after Gouverneur found the head of Sjur Gundersen with a booming ball out of the back that the hard-working midfielder flicked on for Silk, who ran past the Menora defense and finished clinically to put Hakoah ahead for good.
Hakoah continued to pressure the Menora goal, and a minute later Baba found himself clean through on goal, but his attempt bounced off the post and out. He rectified his mistake in the 26th minute, when he finished off a nice one-two combination with guest player Lennox to extend the Hakoah lead to 3-1. In the 32nd minute, Hakoah's best spell of the match continued as Lennox knocked in Hakoah's fourth goal off an assist from Silk.
One of many lapses on a mistake filled day let Menora back into the game before halftime. The visitors punished Hakoah for a poor giveaway in midfield and some lax defensive positioning to cut their deficit to two goals at the break.
The second half also saw Menora score first before Hakoah answered with a flurry of goals to pull away. In the the 53rd minute, Gouverneur was adjudged to have fouled an attacker in the area and the ensuing penalty kick was calmly converted by Menora to make it 4-3. Five minutes later, a Hakoah counterattack wreaked havoc in the Menora penalty area and a deflection skittered past the embattled Menora keeper to extend Hakoah's lead to 5-3.
That scoreline held until the 71st minute, when Sulemana-Baba buried a shot from distance in the far corner for a 6-3 lead. Sulemana-Baba completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute after Gundersen's attempt in front of goal was saved well and the ball trickled out wide to Phil Robinson. Robinson ran onto the ball confidently and found Baba in front of goal for the easy finish to make it 7-3.
With a four goal lead and only a quarter hour remaining in the match, it should have been easy from that point, but a couple of defensive errors allowed Menora to grab two goals back and set up a more exciting finish. The game was finally put out of reach when, under pressure from Sulemana-Baba, the Menora keeper spilled the ball into the path of Hakoah founder Ron Glickman, who bundled home his first ever goal in a Hakoah shirt to complete the day's scoring.
Hakoah continues its preparation for the spring season with a friendly match versus Masis FC of the Garden State Soccer League on Sunday, March 18 at University Field.
MEN -- unknown 1
SCH -- Silk (Sulemana-Baba)
SCH -- Silk (Gundersen) 24
SCH -- Sulemana-Baba (Lennox) 26
SCH -- Lennox (Silk) 32
MEN -- unknown
MEN -- unknown (penalty kick) 53
SCH -- unknown
SCH -- Sulemana-Baba 71
SCH -- Sulemana-Baba (Robinson) 75
MEN -- unknown
MEN -- unknown
SCH -- R. Glickman (Lennox)
Referee: Ron Glickman/Daniel Znaty
Time of Game: 1 hour and 38 minutes
Weather: Sunny and 45 degrees