CSI WOMEN TAKE CUNYAC TITLE ON PENALTY KICKS, 0-0 (4-3)

It may not have been the way they would they would have scripted it, but the No.1 seeded College of Staten Island took home the CUNYAC/Applebee’s Women’s Soccer Championship, by scoring a 4-3 win on a penalty kick shootout after playing to a scoreless draw against No. 3 John Jay College.  For the Dolphins it marked their sixth postseason crown, and their first since 2008, giving them a record of 13-4-1 as it anticipated the upcoming NCAA and ECAC Postseason draws.  For the Bloodhounds, they finalized their record at 6-13-2.

In an extremely exciting first half, both teams had plenty of chances, with play swinging back-and-forth.  CSI got off the game’s first four shots in the first 20 minutes, before CSI keeper Samantha Wysokowski turned back a Bergelie Louis shot in the box which seemed headed for the go-ahead goal.  Moments later, it was John Jay keeper Marcelina Kopec’s turn to shine, as the sophomore spawled to make a fingertip save on a Lauren Neglia shot from just beyond the box.  CSI led the first half shooting, 9-5 (5-3 on goal) but the Bloodhounds had great oppotunities, including a Brenda Pitts breakaway that Wysokowski turned aside after CSI defender Amanda Percaccio caught up to the play.  Later, at 34:00, a Natalie Tombasco strike for CSI was just touched by Kopec at hit the post, falling harmlessly aside.

The teams headed into intermission scoreless, but it was the Dolphins who amped up the pressure in the second frame.  Almost from the get-go, the top seeds put on the pressure, and out-shot the Bloodhounds, 16-1, in the frame (6-1 on goal).  Still, the quality of the chances were few and far between as CSI attackers Paige Buono, Demi-Jean Martorano, and Matea Marie DeNoble scattered a pair of shots each above the crossbar.  CSI’s best chance came just six minutes in, when Neglia and Martorano each had shots in front of the John Jay net that were swept aside at the goalline by Bloodhound defenders.

John Jay tried in vain to spring Louis on a series of downfield runs, but the CSI defense cla,ped down, as Percaccio, Alyssa Colasurdo and Nicole Quattrocchi kept the Bloodhounds at bay.  John Jay’s only shot came with just 13 seconds left by Pitts, with Wysokowski registering her fifth save.  The Bloodhounds had a golden chance as time expired, when a booming free kick by Danielle Bassett bounced twice into the goal mouth, as CSI scrambled to clear the ball from danger.

With overtime set to begin, a penalty-kick shootout seemed imminent, and both teams responded.  CSI put up another six shots, forcing Kopec to make a trio of saves on would-be game-winners, the closest coming on Christina Jacobs free kick from 30-yards out that Kopec finger-tipped above the crossbar.  Moments later, Melissa Gelardi’s shot rang off the outside of the post.  In the second overtime CSI averted a scare when another towering shot from Bassett, this time from the right side, boomed off the post as well, on a shot that Wysokowski guided out-of-bounds.

When the final horn had sounded the game remained scoreless, despite the Dolphins out-shooting the Bloodhounds, 31-8 (14-5 on goal).  The teams were relegated to a shootout scenario, and despite the jitters in the air, CSI Head Coach John Guagliardo was confident going into.

“We practiced this scenario so many times in practice,” he said.  “We were ready.”

CSI was first to shoot, and Neglia buried her shot into the right side, JJ’s Alexis Ochoa did the same against Wysokowski to knot the score 1-1.  Martorano calmly fired to the right side to give CSI a lead, and then Wysokowski played hero, blasting off to her right to stop Pitts’ next shot to put CSi up 2-1 after two rounds.  Wysokowski was next to shoot, but couldn’t help her own cause, rolling a ball wide of the net, and JJ’s Bassett rocketed a ball in to knot the score again, 2-2. 

Next us was Tombasco, who just tucked a ball inside the crossbar to stake CSI to the lead again.  The goal was answered by Stephannie Rengifo, who placed one into the right corner to tie again.  Down to their final shots, Christina Sgarlato fired home another to Kopec’s left.  In the final scene to the tremendous game, John Jay’s Jennifer Gomez fired on Wysokowski, who darted to the right and cut the ball down in its tracks to give CSI the exhilerating win.

“I’m very proud of them, especially after being here and losing last year (to Medgar Evers),” said a jubilant Guagliardo after the game.  “We knew that fully healthy, John Jay was going to give us everything they had and were going to be a big opponent for us tonight.  We showed a lot of confidence at the end to come up with a win.”

For her efforts in the five-save shutout, Wysokowski was named tournament Most Valuable Player.  The field player was confident playing between the pipes for the Dolphins, even during the shootout scenario.

“Playing the field I know what to expect in these scenarios from the shooters and as the keeper, and I just knew I was going to make that last stop.  It’s such a great feeling to win this game, and to do it like we did,” she said.

The Dolphins won the CUNYAC Championship for five straights years spanning 2004-08, but were shut out the last two seasons.  John Jay was making its first championship appearance tonight.

CSI will now await word on possible NCAA or ECAC Metro NY/NJ Postseason contention, with draws to be announced Sunday evening and Monday afternoon.

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