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Higgins helps Knights to 2-1 overtime victory

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Shaun Higgins’ weekend started with watching his first cousin, Chris Higgins, get selected in the first round of the National Hockey League Draft by the Montreal Canadians.

It ended with Shaun, a Whitestone native, scoring a pair of goals, including the golden goal winner, to lift the Brooklyn Knights to a 2-1 double overtime win over the Rhode Island Stingrays at Pierce Memorial Stadium in East Providence, R.I.

A pretty decent weekend over all, wouldn’t you say?

“It was definitely a great weekend,” said a jubilant Higgins after scoring his first two goals of the year as the Knights of the Premier Development League rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to win their second straight game in overtime. “I was so happy to see him drafted, to see my aunt and uncle going crazy on television. I always knew he had the talent.”

Shaun always has been close to his cousin, Chris, who was selected 14th overall by the Canadians, his lifelong favorite team. The two are so close that Shaun was mistaken for Chris in an article about the draft in a daily newspaper that will remain nameless. To add injury to insult, his name was spelled wrong (Sean).

Good-natured ribbing from teammates about the snafu gave Higgins good reason to smile during the three-hour bus ride to East Providence. But it was finally breaking out of a season-long scoring slump that gave the Hofstra junior reason to yuck it up on the way back.

Among the team leaders in scoring chances and shots, Higgins was one of several Knights who struggled to put the ball in the net through the first nine games of the year. But against the Stingrays, a team that defeated Brooklyn 4-3 at the Metropolitan Oval in their only other game this year, Higgins had only two shots and made the most of both.

But before Higgins made an impact on the game, the Knights (4-6 Northeast Division) had to dig themselves out of an early, 1-0 hole as Seth Quidachay-Swan headed in Ben Figuieredo’s cross from 10 yards out to put Rhode Island (3-7) ahead in the 13th minute.

Brooklyn rebounded and netted the equalizer seven minutes later. Rinaldo Chambers, who gave Stingrays defenders fits all game with his tremendous speed, broke past a defender toward the corner flag and sent a low cross into the box. Higgins, who found himself unmarked, beat keeper Peter Mahoney with a one-timer under the crossbar from 15 yards out to tie the game at 1.

“The team didn’t fold, which is something I like in the teams I coach,” said Brooklyn Knights coach Dan Fisher. “They showed a lot of discipline in the back and through the midfield and they put away their chances. They showed a lot of poise.”

Despite playing its second game in less than 24 hours, Rhode Island — which lost 2-1 to Cape Cod Saturday night — played even with the rested Knights in the second half and the first 10-minute sudden death overtime period.

Rhode Island, which was outshot 15-12, had an 8-5 edge in corner kicks, but Brooklyn’s lone corner of the second overtime led to Higgins’ game-winning tally three minutes into the second overtime period.

Knights captain Tommy Hunt and Mahoney leapt to head Angel Rodriguez’s corner. The ball bounced off of Hunt’s noggin and rolled free inside the box. Higgins ran onto the loose ball and rifled it into the open net from 12 yards out to give Brooklyn a dramatic 2-1 in the 103rd minute.

“The play before that the ball just rolled across the line,” Higgins said. “Tommy Hunt stepped up and sacrificed his body, the ball bounced out and I just put my head down and concentrated on hitting it as hard as I could.”

The importance of the victory, the Knights second in a row, is two-fold. Brooklyn gets points on the road — not an easy task in the PDL — and moved ahead of the Stingrays out of last place in the Northeast Division and into a fourth-place tie with the Jersey Falcons.

Brooklyn hosts the Falcons in the first of a four-game home stand in a game scheduled for Wednesday night at the Metropolitan Oval. Following that match, the Knights host the Cape Cod Crusaders Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Oval.

“We like playing at the Oval, it suits our game,” Fisher said. “We’d like to get as many points as we can from the next four games.”

South Jersey Barons 2, New York Freedoms 0. In its second road game in as many nights, the Freedoms (8-3, 37 points Atlantic Division) couldn’t pull off a victory, falling to the South Jersey Barons 2-0 in a D3-Pro League game at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, N.J. Saturday. Matt Miles and Gary Williams scored for the Barons.

New York Freedoms 3, Reading Rage 2. After falling behind 1-0 early on a goal by Reading’s Ben Hoffman, the Freedoms got a pair of goals from Stuart Duffin (18th minute) and Shalrie Joseph (36th minute) to take the lead. But the Rage capped a wild first 45 minutes Friday at Ray Buss Field in Fleetwood, Pa. with a tying goal by J.T. Dorsey in the 40th minute.

With the game appearing destined for overtime, Aboubcar Camara netted the game-winner for the Freedoms in the 86th minute.

After playing at the A-League Milwaukee Rampage in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday, the Freedoms head to South Jersey to again play the Barons Sunday at 6 p.m.

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

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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