Cardozo at head of boro pack in girls soccer

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Two years ago they made it to the PSAL quarterfinals and last year they lost by one goal in the semifinals. If the Cardozo girls’ soccer team continues its upward trend, the Judges could find themselves in the title game June 7 at Long Island University.

Cardozo’s lone loss last year was to Tottenville, 2-1, in the semifinals and the Judges have many of that talented group back for this year.

But some of the team’s key contributors won’t be in the lineup until later this season due to injury.

Out are starters Jessica Mazurkiewicz (ankle injury), Lisa Prasso (mononucleosis) and Lauren Newelt (academics).

But the Judges have a wealth of talent still healthy, including junior Carolyn Durniak, who Cardozo coach Rich Parascos considers “one of the top stoppers in the city,” forward/midfielder Patricia Sotirakis, center midfielder/sweeper Diana Thomas, forward/midfielder Vivian James, forward Raquelle Agranoff, freshman Larissa DeMelo, goalkeeper Jeannette Couture and versatile Tara Martin, who will play a variety of positions this year.

“We’ve been hit with a rash of injuries in the beginning of the year and we’re not going to get everyone back until late April, early May,” Parascos said. “We should be very strong in the midfield and forward, in attacking the other team’s goal. Hopefully we’ll peak at the end of the season.”

If there is one team in Queens that can compete with Cardozo this year it could be Townsend Harris. Like the Judges, the Hawks are not very deep, but do have many talented players who thrive in Chris Hackney’s unique formation which features five midfielders.

Leading the charge is one of the top players in Queens in junior midfielder Jaclyn Miccio. Other standouts include sophomore forward Kathy Dubowski, sophomore midfielder/forward Michelle Berrios, junior defensive midfielder Stacy Christoforidis, freshman midfielder Maria Paschilieis and junior central defender Patty Babio.

“This is a better team than any we’ve had the last couple of years,” said Hackney, whose team was 15-1-1 last year and lost to McKee/Staten Island Tech in the second round of the playoffs. “We only lost two starters from last year’s team and only have two seniors on this one.”

Bryant, who was 19-4-1 last season and lost to PSAL champion Stuyvesant in the second round of the playoffs, has reason to be especially optimistic this season.

The Owls play their home games at a brand new field at the school, as the dust bowl at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park that has been their home for several years has been replaced by a state-of-the-art AstroPlay turf, an artificial grass field that has the look and feel of real grass.

“We now have some fans and parents in the stands. I really like the atmosphere,” said Bryant coach Ralph Montanaro. “It’s such a pleasure to go out there and no dust is flying around.”

Juniors Eleni Petropoulos and Julie Abad and senior Maria Ramos anchor the Owls defense, while senior midfielders Melissa Lam and Viviana Andino and sophomore Lindsay Molina and Cristina Alfonso-Zea should provide the punch in Bryant’s attack.

In addition to Townsend Harris’ Miccio, the borough’s other top player is Newcomers senior Laura Burlacu, who does everything but play goal for the Lions.

Burlacu, who scored 28 goals last year and helped lead the Lions to a 10-4 record and the team’s second straight playoff berth, is coming off a badly sprained right ankle and may not be 100 percent for a couple of weeks.

Other key players for Newcomers are sophomore midfielder Jaqueline Egas, sophomore defenders Valentina Duque and Rebecca Aupont, speedy sophomore forward Armela Dosti and freshman goalkeeper Thalita Correa.

Francis Lewis second-year coach Roger Sarmuksnis is hoping his team can use Monday's 8-1 home loss to Townsend Harris as a learning tool for the rest of the season.

“We have about 20 very committed girls and there are no individuals,” Sarmuksnis said. “They’re still young in terms of the sport of soccer.”

The Patriots, who were 9-6 last year, are led by sophomore forward Caroline Verna and junior center midfielder Jessica DiPardo. Sarmuksnis also thinks junior goalkeeper Nesime Bal, who is 5-foot-11, could be one of the division’s top keepers.

Only five players, including two starters, return for Bayside this season. The Commodores, who were 12-4-1 and lost to Midwood in the second round of the playoffs last year, will look to tri-captains Militza Machuca, a senior goalkeeper, and senior central defenders Tyque Nelson and Melanie Arthur to lead a very young and inexperienced group.

Forest Hills coach Bob Sprance will have to find a way to replace Ana Borges, who scored 90 goals in three years and is currently a standout at Queens College. The Rangers were 10-8 last season and lost in the second round of the playoffs to McKee/Staten Island Tech.

If the Rangers are to make the playoffs for an eighth straight year, seniors Stefany Feliciano (midfielder) and Ashlie Lebhar (defender) as well as junior midfielder Kamila Barnes will be relied upon to provide leadership.

Eric Wozniak takes the reigns as Newtown head coach from Bob Kunkel, who also coaches girls’ basketball and volleyball at the school. Luckily for Wozniak, the transition is made smoother by a core of eight returning players, including junior midfielder Alba Carrasquero, who should be the Pioneers top scoring threat.

Other top players include sophomore defender Astrid Portillo and newcomers Maria Barrozo, a sophomore midfielder and junior midfielder Indira Diaz.

Rounding out the A division is Jamaica, which went 9-7 last year and shocked Thomas Jefferson, 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

The Beavers top two leading scorers from last season return in sophomore forward Kimone McLaughlin (10 goals) and junior Blanca Chimbay and Eric Chasanoff’s squad should also have stability in the back with senior sweeper Susanatte Grant and junior JiJi Sung returning. Also back is senior midfielder Jesse Cerna, a co-captain along with Grant.

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

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