Union, NJ | The College of Staten Island women’s soccer team ushered in the 2018 season this afternoon with plenty of promise, but after a full 90, it was Kean University with a resounding 5-1 victory to open play on their home turf as part of the Cougar Classic.  The Cougars stayed unbeaten all-time against CSI, starting 1-0 overall on the season while the Dolphins lost on opening day for the first time in four years.

Kean controlled play for much of the opening stages, and peppered the CSI goal in the early minutes.  The Cougars’ third shot of the game by Cori Dengel was collapsed on by CSI keeper Kaila DiBenedetto, but a fumble in front saw Lexy Monroy slam home the rebound to give the home team the edge just seconds into the game’s 13th minute.

Still reeling from allowing the opening goal, Kean scored what would turn out to be the game-winner just 1:43 later.  Brittany Birth sent in a cross that went off of DiBenedetto in front and was pushed home by Dengel, giving Kean a 2-0 lead it would ultimately hold going into halftime in a steady rain.

With a comfortable lead, the Cougars were able to head off the CSi attack with plenty of defensive numbers, and when CSI lost possession, Kean would then rely on their counterattack to move the tempo.  The Cougars almost pushed another in the first stanza before an offside negated a goal leading into the half.

CSI did come out with better pace in the second stanza and results followed.  Newcomer Samantha LaValle sent a screamer wide three minutes in, and a short time later a shot by CSI’s Rebecca D’Aloia was parried by Kean keeper Mary Bystrycki.  The Dolphins generated a pair of corner kicks from there and then another shot by senior Lauren Smith was caromed away again by Bystrycki in the 54th minute.

A stroke of luck for CSI turned sour, however, when a Marlee Franden shot kicked off the goalpost but was popped right back into the net by Birth, her first of the season, to make it 3-0 in the 57th minute.

The shot count stayed even from there, until a Monroy strike made it 4-0 in the 77th minute.  The Cougars were sailing from there, until a defensive miscue in the back gave LaValle a break for CSI, and she was able to bury a shot past Marissa Cook, who had come on in place of Bystrycki in the 81st minute to break the clean sheet and make it a 4-1 game.

 Kean would ultimately equal their four-goal margin, when in the 84th minute a foul in the box that spilled a Cougars attacker led to a penalty kick, and Dengel raced a shot passed DiBenedetto to make it 5-1.

Kean would close with a 24-16 edge in shots taken (16-9) on goal.  Bystrycki registered five saves in the win with Cook making three stops, while CSI’s DiBenedetto scored 11 saves, a career high.  LaValle’s goal for CSI came on a team-high five shots.  Dengel led all scorers for Kean with six shots in total, four on goal.

Both CSI and Kean will be back in action tomorrow.  CSI will play Stockton University at 1pm tomorrow on Kean’s Alumni Field, while the Cougars will face the University of Scranton at 4pm.