Brooklyn, NY | The College of Staten Island had their hearts broken tonight in the CUNYAC Championship game. After leading 2-0 early in the second half, Baruch came storming back to tie it up 2-2 before ultimately winning 4-3 in penalty kicks.
The Dolphins opened up the Championship game and kept the ball in Baruch’s half for a good part of the first half. Baruch opted to sit back and absorb the constant waves of attacks the Dolphins sent their way. Staten Island was finally able to crack that shell in the 30th minute when CSI’s leading goal scorer, Bryant Navarro, connected with a volley from 35 yards out. Navarro hit the ball with perfect pace to send it over Kellen Sela’s head for the game’s opening goal.
Baruch opened up a bit and started to test Christian Carucci in net. Carucci was forced to make four straight saves to keep the Bearcats off of the board. Carucci was outstanding in net for the Dolphins all game, diving all over the place to prevent the ball going into the back of the net. His best save of the afternoon came in the 40th minute when Shaiem Morad unleashed a free-kick which forced Carucci to go full stretch to make the save.
Staten Island went into the half with a 1-0 lead and full momentum on their side. That momentum carried over into the second half as 13 minutes into the second half, Navarro would strike again. Joe Bolella was able to dribble around a pair of defenders before passing the ball to Navarro who was able to curl the ball around Sela and into the back of the net.
Down 2-0 things looked bleak for Baruch, however, the Dolphins held the worst lead to have in soccer which allowed Baruch to find the back of the net. Just five minutes after the Dolphins doubled their lead the Bearcats found just the break they needed to get back into the game. Ricardo Llanos received a through ball from Javier Crespo and was able to chip Carucci to bring Baruch within one.
Baruch had found new hope as they began to control the tempo of the game. The roles had reversed and the Dolphins were suddenly on their heels which allowed the Bearcats to once again crack the stout Dolphins defense. Llanos once again broke free behind the defensive line and snuck his shot underneath Carucci to tie the game up with four minutes remaining.
In the first extra time, Alex Sosa nearly gave the Dolphins the win when he hit a well-placed free-kick near the crossbar that Sela was able to get up and save. Carucci came up big for the Dolphins in the second extra time as he stopped a point-blank attempt by Baruch. Sosa was almost the hero the Dolphins needed in the 110th minute as a scramble in the box allowed Sosa to hit a shot towards goal. Unfortunately, his shot would go just wide, sending the game into penalty kicks.
The game would be decided by the longest walk in sports. A penalty kick shootout saw the Bearcats convert all of their chances while Philip Lefkowitz hit the post and Ryan Layman had his chance saved, handing Baruch the CUNYAC title.
For now, Staten Island’s season is over at 15-4-1, capping off a season in which the Dolphins won the most games in a season in CSI history.