The College of Staten Island women’s soccer team used an early scoring surge coupled with incredible defending, to score a 4-1 win over host Medgar Evers College in a CUNYAC matchup at Aviator Field earlier this afternoon in a contest that determined the CUNYAC Regular Season Championship for the sport. By virtue of the win, CSI (10-4 overall, 5-1 CUNYAC) has guaranteed at least a tie with MEC (8-7-1, 4-1 CUNYAC) in the standings when play is completed. CSI owns the tiebreaker over the Cougars with a stronger record over common out-of-conference opponents. The Dolphins will enter the upcoming CUNYAC Championship as the No. 1 seed and Medgar Evers will earn the No. 3 seed, when semifinal play opens on October 31 at the College of Staten Island’s Soccer Complex.
Falling at the hands of the Cougars, 4-2, earlier in the year, CSI knew that only a win could secure its fate as regular season champs, so the Dolphins peppered the MEC goal end early, and struck paydirt just two minutes into the game. CSI freshman Demi-Jean Martorano was spilled to the left of the goal box about 30 yards out and after a foul was whisted, the heads-up Martorano quickly shot in a free kick that caught MEC goalkeeper Yishka Chin out of position, giving CSI the early advantage.
Then, one of the best defensive plays of the game ensued. The Cougars sprung loose for an equalizer when a Kathy Salcedo pass found a streaking Shakera Ho-Sang racing down the heart of the field. CUNYAC’s leading scorer shed off a defender breaking clean on goal but her shot was thwarted by a great stop by freshman keeper Victoria Donegan, who was sidelined with injury the first time the sides faced off. With momentum back on their side, the Dolphins attacked. Finally, a loose ball in the midfield was played by Natalie Tombasco on the right side. Running out of real estate, Tombasco flicked a shot on goal that was completely mishandled by Chin and ended up in the net to give CSI and improbable 2-0 lead at the 12:16 mark.
The Cougars crawled back in at 22:16, as this time, Ho-Sang was able to rip past the CSI defense on a pass from Latima Malachi. This time, the junior put one in the upper corner of goal to cut the lead in half, 2-1. Almost on cue, however, the Dolphins awoke from a short slumber and again turned on the offense. Littering the MEC goal with attackers, an Amanda Percaccio shot was deflected and bounced around in the box before settling on the foot of Tombasco, who got just enough of a soft shot away to beat Chin on the lower left side to give CSI back a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 24:40.
The Dolphins scored a fourth time at 29:42. Tombasco completed her natural hat trick this time by lacing her 10th goal over the season via a semi-breakaway. Running parallel with the defense Tombasco sailed a bending shot over Chin off of a Martorano pass, who was caught too far out of goal after the turnover. CSI was up at intermission, 4-1.
Although winning on the scoreboard, CSI took a nasty hit when midfielder Paige Buono was forced to leave the game with a handful of minutes left in the first stanza with what appeared to be a very serious injury. The injury happened on a rough sliding tackle by Giancarla Denegri. Denegri was carded although the foul was completely unintentional and without malice. Buono did not return.
Although MEC owned the edge in second half shots 9-4 (7-2 on goal), CSI was crisp defensively in the second stanza, thwarting a series of shots and forcing low-percentage shots from wide of goal. When the Cougars did have good looks, Donegan was sensational, turning back another breakaway opportunity by Ho-Sang midway through the second half. Contributing to he cause was the tandem of Percaccio and Jessica Levy, who frustrated the MEC forwards and clamped down on the often dangerous Ho-Sang when she was given open space.
The CUNYAC Semifinals are set to be played on October 31 at CSI. No. 2 Medgar Evers College will play either John Jay College or City College of New York to open play at 12pm. No. 1 CSI will play the other at 2pm. The two winners will advance to the CUNYAC Championship to be played on Sunday, November 6, at Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth, New York, at 2pm.