Brooklyn, NY | Senior Lauren Smith recorded the first multi-goal performance of her career, recording a hat trick in the game’s first half that ultimately led CSI to a 6-2 win over John Jay College in the CUNYAC Championship Game played at Brooklyn College. The Dolphins improved to 12-6 overall and will advance for the fourth-straight time to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament next week. The Bloodhounds finalized their season with a record of 11-6-1.
The top-seeded Dolphins left little to doubt with an explosive start that saw Smith take center stage. In the game’s fourth minute. After Adrianna Parello saw her shot blocked to start the activity in the offensive end, CSI capitalized when Smith found the ball at her feet to the left of goal and rainbowed shot past an outstretched Brittany Shaneberger to give the Dolphins a 1-0 edge.
Before the goal could be announced by the public address team, Smith single-handedly doubled the Dolphins lead. Just 34 seconds later a fumbled cross by Shaneberger saw the ball spill into open space, and the resourceful Smith was there to punch the ball in from close range, giving CSI the commanding 2-0 edge.
Play tempered from there, with the Bloodhounds struggling for open space in the final third of the field while the Dolphins looked for opportunities via the counterattack. After a pair of saves from Kaila DeBenedetto in CSI’s goal in the 24th minute, CSI went on the offensive, and after Shaneberger made a stop on Mirsade Pelinkovic in the 26th minute, she failed to stop an off-angle shot by CUNYAC leading goal-scorer Samantha LaValle, who fired a spinner that Shaneberger could not control, falling loosely into the goal to give CSI the 3-0 lead.
Three minutes later, CSI threatened to run away with the game completely, when Smith completed her hat trick at 31:44. Another loose ball after a defensive failed clearance gave Smith the angle, and the senior put one top shelf that easily beat Shaneberger to make it 4-0.
A resilient Bloodhounds side did not waver, and continued to play with pace up the pitch looking to scratch themselves back in it. The spirited play payed off in the 40th minute, when a CSI foul set up a free kick from 25 yards out and to the left of goal. Anneliese Tucci took the opportunity, sending a bender above CSI’s three-person wall and past an outstretched DiBenedetto to break the shutout and make it 4-1, a lead that carried into halftime.
Whatever momentum JJC had going into halftime did not carry, however, as CSI stifled the Bloodhounds attack to start things, and playing to their counterattack, CSI opened the lead to 5-1 when Adrianna Parello converted on a penalty kick after play generated a hand ball in the box in the 56th minute.
Offense was at a premium from there, as CSI devoted heavy numbers to the back and rarely pushed up to the final third. In the 67th minute, however, CSI was awarded a free kick, and Parello took the honors from the left side and placed a ball right on the far post, where LaValle was there with a sterling volley that hit the far corner of the net to open CSI to a 6-1 advantage.
With CSI is full control, the Dolphins did yield another goal via the set piece, when Katie Healy buried a gorgeous ball into the top shelf from 20 yards out in the 71st minute. From there, CSI would only yield one shot, cruising to a 6-2 final.
The six goals scored by the Dolphins were the most scored in a CUNYAC Championship, and the hat trick by Smith was the first hat trick ever recorded in a women’s final. To no one’s surprise, Smith was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The CUNYAC Championship by the Dolphins was their 10th all-time and the unit’s fourth in a row. It also marked the first CUNYAC title for rookie Head Coach Brittany Casares.