The College of Staten Island won their third straight CUNYAC Postseason Tournament Championship this afternoon after defeating Lehman College, 2-0, at the CSI Soccer Complex. With the win, the Dolphins improved to 13-5-1 overall and will now wait to see where they will be heading for the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament. The win for the Dolphins is also their eighth title in school history.
The game opened up with both teams playing reserved, just testing each other as neither team wanted to make a costly mistake and allow an early goal in the championship game. With the play a stalemate seemingly through the first 30 minutes, CSI did settle in, and their offensive prowess began to show as Lehman’s goalkeeper Rebecca Gritz had to remain on alert at all times. Stephanie LaPointe nearly put the Dolphins up when she launched a shot from 20-yards out that careened off of the crossbar and back into play. The Dolphins wre unable to capitalize on the rebound, and Lehman was able to clear.
Just minutes later, Adrianna Parello curled a free-kick off of the inside of the post. The ball refused to go into the back of the net for the Dolphins in the first stanza as the post and crossbar had saved Lehman twice already. Although the score was deadlocked at 0-0 heading into intermission, and the shots on goal just 2-1 in favor of CSI, the Dolphins had certainly built up a fair amount of momentum going into the break.
At the half, the Dolphins led 6-1 in total shots, with two of them forcing Rebecca Gritz to make a save. CSI benefited from their constant attacks which garnered three first-half corner kicks.
In the second half, the Dolphins exploded on offense, doubling their shot total from the first half. The constant waves of attacks finally led to a goal in the 59th minute. Lizbeth Aparicio, the finals MVP, would score her fifth goal of the season when Parello would bend a set piece passed two defenders to the far post onto Aparicio’s head for the first of the game. Brittany Bornstad then continued to find herself open to uncork shots, however, she was unsuccessful at putting them on target as she put three wide in a 10-minute span.
Aparicio was a thorn in Lehman’s side all season as four of her six goals on the year came against the Lightning. Aparicio would score a brace in the 76th minute when Parello was once again about to thread a free kick from 40-yards out into the box. This one found Aparicio’s foot which allowed her to crush it home to put the Dolphins up 2-0 in the Championship.
Leading 2-0, Head Coach Giuseppe Pennetti made some tactical changes and brought in more defensive minded players to preserve the lead with 10 minutes remaining. The change did exactly that, as the Lightning were unable to crack the defensive formation to fire off a shot despite pushing players forward.
“I am extremely happy for the team,” Pennetti said after the game. “They really wanted the three-peat all year, no one pushed it on them, and they really sacrificed all year long to make it happen. I’m blessed to have 22 starters on this team and we knew to win a championship we would need volume and quality of players, and to just keep playing our game and that showed today.”
For Aparicio, the MVP touch was a humbling one. “It’s amazing. Words can’t describe the happiness,” an elated Aparicio said at the conclusion. “We love the sport and we love playing it with each other. We just had to calm it down today, keep the ball down, play our game and try to score. It’s such a great feeling to be named MVP.”
Staten Island would finish the game with 18(7) shots to just two by the Lightning. CSI also edged out the Lighting 8-2 in corner kicks for the game. The win over the Lightning extended the Dolphins’ streak against the Lightning to five in a row.
The Dolphins will now wait until Monday for the NCAA Selection Show where they will see where they will be playing and who they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.