After getting shut out of postseason competition following a dismal 2009 campaign, the College of Staten Island men’s soccer team will be right smack in the middle of the hunt for a 2010 championship, as the Dolphins have earned the No. 4 seeding in the upcoming CUNYAC/Applebee’s Men’s Soccer Championship.  CSI (4-10-2 overall, 4-4-1 CUNYAC) will host No. 5 Lehman College (5-11-1, 4-4-1) at the CSI Soccer Complex on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30pm to kick-off quarterfinal play.
The Dolphins made an appearance in the 2007 Final, but since then the team bowed out in the quarterfinal round in 2008 and failed to qualify a year ago after a subpar campaign.  Lehman, meanwhile, a club program in 2008 enjoyed a quarterfinal appearance in 2009 and has the No. 5 seeding in the tourney for the second consecutive season.  Despite being even in the standings, the Dolphins earned the higher seeding and the home contest thanks to a 1-0 regular season overtime victory over Lehman earlier this season in the Bronx.
The improved performance by the Dolphins in CUNYAC play is thanks largely to a more formidable attack up-front, one that has gotten progressively better as the season advances.  The Dolphins scored more than one goal in only two games last season, while the 2010 installment has produced better offensive distribution, and after scoring only four goals over the season’s first seven games, the Dolphins have scored 11 markers in the last eight contests.
Most of the up-front scoring has been done by junior attacker Kenneth Zaw, who boasts a career-high six goals this season.  One of Zaw’s most notable goals was the golden goal scored early into the first overtime period against Lehman College, a lined shot from 35 yards away on a counterattacking rush.  Freshman Dong Luu, a sensational midfielder, has played in all but one game this season, notching a trio of goals next to a team-leading four assists.  Freshman reserve Alen Desevic is CSI’s only other multi-goal scorer with two goals, both in a 4-2 win over York College, the team’s first CUNYAC win of the season.
Another exciting part of the team has been the elevated play of goalkeeper Ahmed El-Ghareib, the senior with one year of eligibility remaining is a converted defender minding the net, making 123 saves over 16 games.  Despite a 7-0 loss to Manhattanville College on October 18, the senior was the best player on the pitch, stopping an incredible 20 shots, a season-high.
The enigmatic Dolphins may not be looked at as a sure-shot championship team, but in the wide-open CUNYAC lineup, the team knows it will have a shot.  Three of CSI’s wins this season have come against teams that have been sitting in first place in the standings at the time of their contests (York, Lehman, Hunter).  CSI was also the beneficiaries of a 1-0 forfeit win over NYC College of Technology.  The game was recorded as a 1-1 tie, but NYCCT could not finish the game due to insufficient numbers, awarding the forfeit to CSI.
A win by either team on Wednesday would advance them to the CUNYAC Semifinal round on Saturday, October 30, at the Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth, New York.  They would play the winner of No. 1 Baruch College vs. No. 8 Medgar Evers College.  In other quarterfinal matches No. 2 Hunter College will host No. 7 City College of New York while No. 3 York College will host No. 6 John Jay College.