JERSEY EXPRESS 2014 SEASON PROMO
Throughout its history, the Jersey Express has been one of the better teams within the PDL. While this year's squad might not have had the talent of its predecessors, the Express experienced unprecedented success this season.
This year, the Express won the PDL Mid-Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time in team history. The Express' season came to an end when it fell 2-1 to Michigan in the semifinals of the PDL Championship on August 1, but not before taking the program to new heights.
"I think this year's team played more as a team," said Jersey Express general manager Gali Maimon. "We've had years before with much better talent, but this year they played together. It's a great tribute and all of the credit goes to the coaches."
For these reasons, head coach Jeff Matteo was selected as one of four finalists for the PDL's Coach of the Year award. Despite an ever-evolving lineup, which saw 32 different players see action this season, Matteo led the Express to a 10-1-3 mark in the regular season.
On the pitch, the Express were led by All-Eastern Conference selections Kouassi Sylvain N'guessan and Walter Hines. Hines, a versatile midfielder, led the team with 17 points this season. His five assists were a team-high and his goals were the second most. The 5-7, Costa Rican native scored the lone goal in Jersey's division clinching victory over Baltimore on July 16. He also added a goal in the Eastern Conference semifinals. N'guessan, who is from Cote d'Ivoire, anchored a strong Express defense, which allowed just 18 goals in 17 games and posted six shutouts.
Sayreville, NJ native and former Rutgers standout Kene Eze overcame early injuries to become one of the league's elite scorers. Eze, who was held scoreless in his first six matches, finished with a team-high seven goals, all coming in the final four games of the regular season. Eze, who was selected by Toronto FC in this year's MLS SuperDraft, continued his torrid play in the postseason, scoring four goals in threeplayoff games, including the winning goal in Eastern Conference Championship final. Hines and Christopher Karcz had six goals apiece, while Ansger Otto and Joseph Ovenseri each added five goals. Hines led the squad in assists with five, Conor Fitzpatrick had four assists while Noah Sadaoui, Andrew Tinari and Nicholas Viaggio added three assists each. Midfielder Juan Correa added a goal and two assists in the playoffs.
On the defensive end, N'guessan, Clint Caso, Christopher Lebo, Matthew Mahoney and Lamin Janneh were key contributors on the backline for the Express. Goalkeeper Matthew Turner had nine wins on the season and at one point, posted four consecutive shutouts.
Maimon knows that next year's squad will see plenty of new faces as the Express continue to produce players who are acquired to play at the next level of professional soccer. But regardless, of the changes that may be in store, the goals will remain high for the organization.
"Every year we strive for the same (goals)," Maimon said. "Our goals never change, we want to win everything."