A goal that ricocheted off of the goal post by freshman Joe Bolella in the 78th minute was the difference, as No. 5 College of Staten Island scored a 1-0 winner over No. 4 Baruch College as part of CUNYAC Postseason Tournament Quarterfinal play at Randall’s Island this evening. The win sent the Dolphins (10-6-2) into Saturday’s semifinal at top-seeded Lehman, while Baruch’s season is halted at 8-8.
An offensive showcase when the two teams met in the regular season, the sides combined for seven goals the first time around, but the postseason matchup proved to be quite the opposite. The offenses still had their chances, but strong play in the final third by both teams kept the game knotted into the final tense minutes and Bolella scored his fifth of the season and his first since September 18 to give CSI the win, it’s first over Baruch in the postseason since 2007.
“It was a hard-fought victory for us,” said Head Coach John Tardy. “I thought we did well to create the better chances and although we couldn’t cash in on many, we stayed composed and disciplined. We continued to grind and found a way to win the game. I’m very proud of our guys tonight.”
CSI led the total shot count 15-5 (9-1 on goal), including an 8-5 clip in the first half, but Baruch keeper Victor Torres kept the Dolphins off of the register, making five stops to frustrate the Dolphins’ attack. On the other end, CSI keeper Balint Barabas was limited in duty, but kept the sheet clean through the first 45 with a single save, the only one he had to make all game.
Despite a lop-sided foul count, where CSI committed 29 fouls by game’s end compared to the Bearcats’ nine, the home squad could not get a quality set piece going in the second half, and play narrowed into the final 15 with the game hanging in the balance. The longer the game was scoreless, the more evident it appeared that the team that could find a way to score might hold a 1-0 edge through the final whistle.
That proved true when after a pair of spirited runs up the field by CSI came up short, CSI kept knocking on the door, and at 77:11, Bolella turned on a shot from well outside the goal box, looping a ball from about 25 yards out that beat Torres on the left, bounced off of the low inside corner of the goal post and into the twine for the game-winner. It marked CSI’s first lead in a game in 499 minutes. CSI did not allow a shot on goal the rest of the way and Barabas attacked a couple of would-be lead-in passes before they could do harm deeper into his goal box.
The win by CSI avenged a 4-3 loss to Baruch during the regular season and broke a two game playoff losing streak at the hands of the Bearcats, who defeated the Dolphins in 2013 and 2014 in semifinal play. The Dolphins will try and do the same against Lehman on Saturday, who defeated CSI during the regular season, 1-0, despite being heavily out-shot. Lehman also defeated CSI last year in semifinal play, 2-0.
“We have a quick turnaround now,” commented Tardy. “As big a win as tonight is, we will focus our attention to Saturday tomorrow and keep working hard.”
Kickoff to Saturday’s semifinal showdown is at 12pm. In the CUNYAC’s other quarterfinal tilt today, No. 3 Brooklyn College defeated No. 6 Hunter College, 3-1. Brooklyn will travel to Randall’s Island on Saturday to face No. 2 John Jay College at 1pm. The two semifinal winners will meet at the College of Staten Island in the CUNYAC Final on Saturday, November 4, at 2pm.