For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, the College of Staten Island women’s soccer team will be playing for the CUNYAC/Applebee’s Championship, and are gearing up for their showdown with No. 3 John Jay College at Icahn Stadium, Saturday afternoon at 4pm. The game will be broadcast live beginning at 3:40pm on CSI SportsNet at www.csidolphins.com/livegames.asx, with Michael Baybusky and David Pizzuto carrying the call. For the Dolphins, the team will be looking for their sixth CUNYAC Championship and their first since 2008.
CSI advanced to the Final via a lop-sided, 6-0, win over No. 4 York College, a first-year varsity program. John Jay had the tougher road, getting through No. 2 City College of New York via penalty kicks, 1-1 (4-1). The Bloodhounds are making their first appearance in the CUNYAC Final. The Dolphins went on to win the first five CUNYAC titles but have been shut out since. In 2009, CSI failed to qualify for the single game championship, and the team fell 3-1 last year to Medgar Evers College in the title game.
The Dolphins are arguably the tournament favorite, having ripped through conference competition during the regular season to the tune of a 6-0 mark, outscoring their rivals, 24-0. CSI hasn’t allowed a goal against a conference opponent in 636:50 dating back to last year’s final, and the team did score a pair of shutout wins over the Bloodhounds this season, 4-0 & 5-0. Still, with John Jay riding a high over a big win over the Beavers in the semifinals, the Dolphins will take on a guarded approach against John Jay.
“They are riding a nice high,” commented CSI Head Coach John Guagliardo, who has guided the Dolphins to a program-best 13-4 record this season. “We’re going to have to be ready to play a tough game against a gritty team that will play relaxed and with nothing to lose.”
CSI will look to go to the offensive early and then turn on the defensive pressure. The Dolphins have proven capable, boasting 13 different goal scorers this year, including four-time CUNYAC Player of the Week Demi-Jean Martorano’s 18 goals, the second highest in program history. Natalie Tombasco’s hat-trick against York College in the semifinals lifted her season total to 10, while senior captain Lauren Neglia follows with six tallies. Freshman dynamo Melissa Gelardi is among the national leaders with 13 assists, a CSI single season record. Between the sticks, CSI could go with either Valerie Incontrera (7-2, 1.91 GAA) or Samantha Wysokowski (6-2, 1.71 GAA), who have both proven capable.
The Bloodhounds come into the Final with a 6-13 overall and 3-3 CUNYAC record, but are riding an impressive streak, with three wins in the last four games, having allowed only three goals in that same stretch after allowing 69 tallies in their first 16 games (4.31pg.). The team is paced by Bergelie Louis’ six goals while Alexis Ochoa and Brenda Pitts follow with three tallies apiece. Marcelina Kopec has logged over 1,700 minutes in goal this season, boasting a .721 save percentage, good for third in the CUNYAC (Behind CSI’s Wysokowski and Incontrera).
In their first meeting this season on September 17, CSI blitzed John Jay for two goals in the opening six minutes by Paige Buono and Christina Sgarlato and sailed to a 4-0 win. CSI outshot the Bloodhounds, 23-3 (13-0 on goal). In their second meeting at the CSI Soccer Complex, the game was a 0-0 stalemate for the first 42 minutes before Gabriela Galeano registered for CSI for the lone first half goal. The Dolphins opened the floodgates in the second frame, scoring four goals in a 20 minute span for the 5-0 win. CSI outshot the Bloodhounds 34-3 (17-2 on goal). CSI is 5-0-1 all-time against John Jay, having won the last four meetings.
After the CUNYAC Championship Final, CSI will await word on further postseason play as NCAA and ECAC Postseason selection will be announced on Monday, November 7. In the CUNYAC Men’s Final, No. 1 Lehman College will take on No. 3 Baruch College, with an approximate 6pm start time.