HIGHLIGHTS – The College of Staten Island women’s soccer team have earned the right to defend their CUNYAC Championship, as they were successful at clinching their trip to the Final via a 4-2 win over No. 3 Lehman College in their semifinal matchup played at Brooklyn College.  The Dolphins will play the hosts and top seeds on Saturday at 2pm on the CUNYAC’s final day.  The Dolphins improved to 11-4-2 overall, while the Lightning finalized at 8-8-1.

In a game dominated by momentum swings it was the Dolphins that flew right out of the gate, taking a 3-0 halftime edge thanks to three early goals.  Two of CSI’s first three tallies were the direct result of Lehman errors.  The first came just two minutes into the game, when a Lehman turnover from 35 yards out was converged on by Lauren Smith, who skipped a pass to Krystina Rodriguez, who then found an open Jennifer Cosenza at the top of the box.  Cosenza’s defender slipped and fell leaving her alone with keeper Linda Resto.  With Resto charging, Cosenza side-stepped to the left and calmly threaded in her 13th goal of the year to make it 1-0.

As the game settled in from there, CSI put on constant pressure and forced a pair of corner kicks.  On the second one, sophomore Adrianna Parello bent a beautiful crossing ball right in front of the goal mouth and onto the waiting boot of Rodriguez, who hammered home the goal at 13:13 to give CSI a commanding, 2-0, lead.  A stunned Lehman kept reeling and just under four minutes later the Lightning committed another bad error, when Resto muffed a simple ball that went straight-up into the air by Smith.  With players scrambling, an open ball came to Rodriguez, who side-stepped right and put a ball over Resto to make it 3-0 at 17:04.

With CSI in full control, the rest of the half was about defense, and CSI prevented Lehman from attacking well, pushing attackers into corners while keeper Nicole Mignone interrupted a series of would-be crosses and through-balls.  She need make a lone save in the first half.

In the second half, the Lightning needed to press, and although they weren’t having a whole lot of luck, they were getting free kick opportunities after CSI fouls.  After squandering a pair, LC finally made one hurt, when Gredia Sanchez bent a ball from the left directly into the top shelf on goal.  Mignone was able to make the save, but punched the ball into the crossbar, and when it came down a mad scramble ensued and Lightning attacker Daisy Narvaez was able to get to the loose ball and whip into goal to cut the lead to 3-1, just 10:41 into the second half.

The goal gave Lehman some rejuvenated life and the crowd came alive as well.  What resulted was more inspired play from LC and just under two minutes later, another costly CSI foul led to another Lehman free kick, this time about 35 yards away from goal in the center of the pitch.  Again, the Sanchez kick was allowed to skip into the CSI goal box, and Daisy Gomez was able to catch up to a loose ball collect to the left and sending a ball far post past Mignone to make it 3-2 with 33 minutes still left to play.

Thankfully, for the Dolphins, the team did collect itself, and even though Lehman would go on to out-shoot CSI, 8-4, in the second half, possession remained about even, as CSI opted to play strong in the back and opt for counterattacking opportunities.  On such opportunity happened with just over 22 minutes to play.  Off of a throw-in, a give-and-go ensued with Natalia Sandor and Cosenza, and in the end Sandor delivered a sterling pass to an open Krista Anson in the box, who went top shelf against a helpless Resto to give CSI back a two-goal lead with 22:12 to play.

From there, CSI settled into defensive rhythm.  Lehman made a couple of spirited runs but true to form, many of their best chances were saved for set pieces, including a corner late that skipped into CSI’s goal box creating a scramble in front.  Despite making just one save in the second half, and two in total, Mignone was sensational in net for CSI, attacking balls at the top of the box and interrupting a series of Lehman runs.

CSI out-shot Lehman in the game 11-9 (6-4 on goal), and held an 8-2 edge in corner kicks.  This was the third straight year the Dolphins defeated Lehman in the CUNYAC Postseason, and it will pit them against Brooklyn, a 3-0 winner over No. 4 CCNY earlier in the evening.

The Dolphins also improved to 7-0 all time in CUNYAC Tournament Semifinal Round games, and scored their second two-goal win over LC this season, having beaten them 2-0 earlier this year in regular season play in Staten Island.