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Cardozo girls fall to Tottenville in semis, 2-1

With a stoppage in play and his team trailing by two goals, Cardozo girls’ soccer coach Rich Parascos huddled the squad by the Judges’ bench. He begged them to step up their play in the final 10 minutes of their PSAL semifinal match against four-time defending city champions Tottenville Tuesday.

“I told them we all want to be at St. John’s Thursday [for the PSAL final] so let’s go,” he said.

Cardozo responded. Patricia Sotirakis scored less than a minute later and the Judges had the Pirates on their heels for the final minutes of the game. But their 10 minutes of brilliance were not enough to make up for 70 minutes of lackluster play as Tottenville held on to beat Cardozo, 2-1, and advance to the PSAL final.

Tottenville, which has won seven of the last eight PSAL titles, will faceStuyvesant in the city championship game Thursday night at St. John’s University. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

“We founded this program three years ago and the seniors have really matured and made this an unbelievable team,” Parascos said. “We went from a club team to a shot away from the city championship. They have a lot to be proud of.”

No. 4 Cardozo (18-2) had a flurry of great chances late in the game. Sotirakis followed a collision between Denise Vallejo and Pirates keeper Mary Saldarelli and put the ball into the net to cut Tottenville’s lead to 2-1.

Five minutes later, a pass by Sotirakis found Vallejo free in the box, but the senior’s shot rang off the crossbar.

With three minutes left senior Sunny Tsang followed a scramble in the box with a low hard shot that went off Saldarelli’s finger tips and off the post.

In the final seconds Sotirakis had an indirect free kick 15 yards from goal, but her shot was blocked by the Pirates’ wall.

Parascos said his team’s play in the final 10 minutes was attributed to a switch in strategy he made late in the game when he marked one of the top defenders in the city in Tottenville’s Pam Janairo, who is also the Staten Island high jump and long jump champion.

“I take the blame for the loss. We should’ve marked their stopper earlier,” he said. “Once we did that we began to get the ball deep in their zone. But by then it was too late.”

Top-seeded Tottenville (25-1) got on the board 10 minutes into the game as Kristen Vigliotti’s pass found Ashley Rovito by the far post. Her one-timer beat Cardozo keeper Jeannette Couture from 5 yards out.

The Pirates appeared to put the game away in the 60th minute as Daniella Otaiza followed Rovito’s header off the crossbar with a header 5 yards from goal to put Tottenville up 2-0.

“Towards the end up 2-0, we calmed down and they just picked it up,” Rovito said. “We have to learn to never give up. It was a semifinal game and I guess we were anxious to get to the finals.”

Cardozo 4, Bronx Science 3. The Judges reached the semifinal with a thrilling 4-3 penalty kick win over fifth-seeded Bronx Science at Wagner High School on Staten Island Friday. After 80 minutes of scoreless soccer and another 20 minutes of overtime, the Judges won the game on penalty kicks. Sophomore sweeper Diana Thomas scored the game-winner and Couture made two diving stabs to clinch the win for the Judges. Kelly Kaso, Sotirakis and Stephanie Ditaranto also scored for Cardozo.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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