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Flushing falls to Canarsie in soccer finals

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Lourdes Minaya and the Flushing girls’ soccer team rushed onto the artificial turf field at Midwood High School in Brooklyn for an impromptu pile-on following a dramatic semifinal penalty-kick shootout victory over John Adams.

And then, what seemed like seconds later for the Red Devils, they were back on the field to play rested Canarsie in the championship game of the inaugural Brooklyn/Queens Day Cup last Thursday.

Try as they may, the Red Devils had nothing left. They were physically and emotionally drained following the semifinal victory and could not come back from an early 1-0 deficit as the Chiefs were crowned the top PSAL ‘B’ team.

“We could have had this game, but we were just too tired,” said Minaya, a junior co-captain. “The defense was really tired. John Adams is a really tough team and we wasted most of our energy in that game.”

The Brooklyn/Queens Day Cup, featuring the top ‘B’ division teams in Brooklyn and Queens — the only two boroughs to field teams this year — consisted of seven 40-minute single-elimination games.

Both Flushing and Canarsie were surprise entries in the title match. The Red Devils, who finished in third place in Queens B, paved their way to the championship by playing solid team defense and getting timely scoring from Minaya. Canarsie finished in third in Brooklyn B but advanced to the title tilt by upsetting tournament favorite Thomas Jefferson, 1-0 in the semifinals.

Keisha Wilson, who scored the game-tying goal with six seconds left in Canarsie’s opening round 2-1 penalty-kick victory over Richmond Hill, scored the lone goal of the game eight minutes into the first 20-minute half on a great lead pass by Nastassia Bennett. Wilson beat Flushing keeper Nadege Nerette low from 10 yards out.

“We ran out of gas. [The halves] were only 20 minutes but there was so much pressure,” said first-year Flushing coach Sergio Jimenez. “It was not easy, but I’m still satisfied. I couldn’t have asked for more than to fight for a championship.”

Jimenez inherited a Flushing team that went 2-12 last year and lacked experience to a squad that finished third in Queens B with a 10-1-5 mark.

“I really am pleased with the girls. Most of them have never played soccer before,” he said. “No way I can complain. I wanted to play John Adams and we beat John Adams. I wanted to take the championship to Queens but not everything worked out the way we wanted.”

Minaya provided the heroics, and the celebration of the tournament, in the Red Devils’ opening round 1-0 win over Brooklyn Tech. Noticing the Engineers’ defense had yet to set up following a foul near the top of the box, Minaya easily slotted the ball past the unsuspecting defense and into the net from 20 yards out.

She then turned and found co-captain Natalie Bravo, who bent on one knee. Minaya put her right foot on her leg as Bravo made a shoe shining motion as Minaya waved to the crowd.

“It was her idea,” Minaya said of the celebration. “She said at the beginning of the season if one of us scores then the other captain would shine the other person’s shoe.”

In the semifinal match against John Adams, Spartans’ striker Marja-Lisa Yee had the best scoring chance during regulation as she exploded past the Flushing defense and dribbled in alone on Nerette.

After her initial shot rang off the crossbar, the Spartans leading scorer collected her own rebound, but her second shot was wide of the near post.

In the penalty-kick shootout Yee donned the goalkeeper’s jersey and stopped Flushing’s first two attempts. Maura Torres put Adams, who defeated Tilden 1-0 in the opening round thanks to a goal by Michelle Rizzo, in front, 1-0. Minaya responded with a goal into the upper 90 and after the shot Yee went down and missed the next round due to cramping in her right calf.

With Flushing leading 2-1, Yee came back and stopped Nerette’s penalty kick but the Flushing keeper returned the favor, saving Yee’s hard shot to clinch the Red Devils championship game berth.

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

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