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High-flying Golden Eagles topple Wagner, 3-1

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Springfield Gardens boys soccer coach Clifton Schultz calls it the “defensive offensive,” a system that employs the Golden Eagles speed and smarts on both ends of the field.

Schultz’s technique has not only led his team to the top of the Queens B South division, but has also frustrated its opponents. The latest team to be perplexed by the style is Robert F. Wagner, which was whistled offside 20 times in the second half alone in Springfield Gardens 3-1 victory Friday at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“We need to work on the offsides,” said Robert F. Wagner head coach Ignazio Accardi. “But when you play three games in five days it’s hard to hold practice in-between. It’s tough to make them hold back.”

The anchor of Springfield Gardens’ offside trap is senior Andre Elphic, who moved back to defense this year after playing forward and center-midfield his first three seasons.

“He’s very organized, he sets the offside trap,” Schultz said of Elphic. “He controls them so they know when to go and when not to go.”

Elphic, a sprinter on the school’s track team who took third place in the 100-meter dash at the Queens championships last year, not only controls the back line with his speed, strength and height, but he also sets up the Golden Eagles offense.

Long booming kicks by Elphic freed Damion Chambers, Springfield Gardens’ equally swift forward, for several of the Golden Eagles scoring chances, including a pair of goals.

“As soon as the other team gets the ball, we know we have to step up and leave the forwards in an offside position,” said Elphic, who, like so many of his teammates, hails from the island of Jamaica. “Damion also has good speed, so I know I just have to boot it up the field and Damion will be behind it.”

With Robert F. Wagner (5-1-2 Queens B North) playing a man down in the opening six minutes because of late arrivers, Springfield Gardens (8-1) took advantage right away, as Chambers ran onto an Elphic long ball and beat keeper Vladimir Fernandez — the Panthers back-up keeper — low to the near post to give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead less than one minute into the game.

“It was a tough start to the day, down a man and without our starting keeper,” said Accardi, who missed starting keeper Santiago Arango (a no-show) and team captain Martin Gutierrez (moved to Boston). “But that’s life in the PSAL, what can you do?”

The Panthers evened the score in the 22nd minute when Vincente Devia chipped a shot past Springfield Gardens keeper Kemar Robinson from 18 yards out.

But two minutes later the Golden Eagles took the lead for good, as Kirkland McLaughlin headed in an Elphic cross at the far post as Springfield Gardens went into the break ahead, 2-1.

Robert F. Wagner controlled the majority of play in the second half, but time and again the Panthers walked away empty-handed and frustrated after being whistled offside.

On one such scenario in the 73rd minute, Elphic’s long ball found a streaking Chambers, who chipped the ball over a charging Fernandez, to seal the game for the Golden Eagles.

Bayside 4, Flushing 2. San Yoon, Dino Porter and Gerald Prophete scored 20 minutes into the game and Emre Aksu added another goal for the Commodores (7-0-2 Queens A East). Han Soo Jun scored both goals for Flushing (4-2-3 Queens A East).

Francis Lewis 4, Forest Hills 0. Eric Herrera had a pair of goals and Tom Martello made 10 saves to lead Lewis (4-4-1 Queens A East).

Cardozo 3, Bowne 1. Ahmed Hassan scored twice and Rob Bartolini added another goal for Cardozo (6-2 Queens A East).

Van Buren 3, Richmond Hill 0. Diego Valasquez had two goals and Kahmil Garcia netted the game’s first goal on an assist from Javier Zoppolo to lead Van Buren (3-2-4 Queens B South) to its third straight shutout.

Edison 2, Robert F. Wagner 1. Francisco Gongora broke a 1-1 tie with a goal in the 70th minute to lead Edison (7-0-2 Queens B North) past the Panthers. Gongora also assisted on Jose Canales’ goal.

Far Rockaway 1, Campus Magnet 1. Yula Shephard gave Campus Magnet (3-3-3 Queens B South) a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the game, but Shad Greaves tied the game with seven minutes left in the second half for Far Rockaway (5-2-1 Queens B South).

Newtown 3, Aviation 1. Jonathan Figeroreoa tied the game with a first-half corner kick and Jackson Rodriguez and O’Dean Rodgers added second half goals for Newtown (7-0-1 Queens A West). Juan Morales added a pair of assists for the Pioneers.

Newcomers 1, Bryant 0. Dariusz Stankiewicz scored off an assists from Alex Guerrero in the 27th minute and Elvir Prasovic made seven saves in his fifth shutout for Newcomers (7-1 Queens A West).

Far Rockaway 2, Hillcrest 1. Val Torey scored both goals, including the game-winner off an assist from Sheldon Scott with six minutes left to break a 1-1 tie for the SeaHorses.

Van Buren 0, Townsend Harris 0. Alfredo Ponce had nine saves for Van Buren.

Edison 2, Campus Magnet 2. Shephard scored a pair of goals, including the game-tying score with 30 seconds left in the game for the Bulldogs, while Francisco Gongora netted both goals for the Inventors.

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

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