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Cape Cod nips Knights, as win streak stops at 3

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It was just a tease.

The three straight wins, the flourishing offense and the growing confidence were false alarms. The Brooklyn Knights simply aren’t the same team that went to the playoffs last season and Saturday’s performance reaffirmed that assessment.

The Knights were roughed up by a physical Cape Cod team. They flailed at several golden opportunities and seemed out-of-sync, dropping a 3-1 decision to the second-place Crusaders Saturday at the Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth.

With six games left in the season, the Knights (5-7 PDL Northeast) postseason hopes are fading quickly. The loss puts Brooklyn 16 points behind Cape Cod for the second and final playoff spot in the division.

“It’s been tough,” said defender Tommy Hunt, who had suffered a gash to his left leg midway in the second half. “We have played well enough to win, but it just doesn’t seem to come together. We’ve have had high expectations and that makes it even more disappoint­ing.”

First-year coach Dan Fisher hasn’t lost hope with this team. He said he’s seen “crazier things happen in this league. This team [Cape Cod] could lose down the road and we could have a couple of wins. You just never know.”

Brooklyn, which lost six of eight to start the season, has played well lately. The offense has come alive to score six goals in a three-game winning streak.

The team’s luck ran out Saturday. The Knights couldn’t score on several point-blank shots in the first half — including one that hit cross bar — and were down 1-0 when Crusader forward Niccola Chicco headed in a brilliant corner kick from Bryan Harkin at the 23rd minute.

The Knights appeared ready in the second half., controlling possession for the first 15 minutes and finally netting a score. Midfielder Angel Rodriguez had his 20-yard free kick sail past goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 58th minute.     

But Cape Cod broke the tie a minute later.

Chicco easily worked his way into the Brooklyn box. The husky forward dribbled past a defender, lining a low 10-yard shot past Billy Guadette to the far post for his second goal and lifting Cape Cod to a 2-1 lead in the 59th minute.

Brooklyn never really threatened in the final 30 minutes and the Crusaders sealed the win with a goal Neil Krause in the closing minutes.

“This loss sets us back,” Rodriguez said. “We thought we had something going [with the three straight wins]. But we can’t keep our heads down.

“We got to keep going out there and playing hard. We know we have great talent. We just need to keep playing and something will happen. It’s a disappointing game, but we're not done yet.”

Brooklyn Knights 3, Jersey Falcons 1. The Knights rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to score three unanswered goals June 26 at the Oval. St. John’s midfielder Angel Rodriguez tied the game at 1-1 two minutes into stoppage time when he bent a free kick inside the far post from 18 yards out.

Brooklyn had a golden chance to take a 2-1 lead in the 50th minute when Rich Bradley stepped to the spot to take a penalty kick after Juan Chiavarini was taken down in the box. But Bradley's shot, which had Jersey keeper Steve Welham beat, skipped off the crossbar and over the endline.    

Jackson Heights resident Richie Lesmes, who turns 17 next month, entered the game in the 67th minute and immediately made an impact.

He found Whitestone native Shaun Higgins with a brilliant lead pass down the wing and Higgins, who netted both goals in Brooklyn's 2-1 double overtime win at Rhode Island Sunday, sent a perfect cross into the box. The ball landed on Andre Schmid’s foot and his one-timer capped a phenomenal setup to give the Knights a 2-1 lead in the 72nd minute

Lesmes also set up the Knights’ final goal, finding Alex Cuba in the box with a cross and Cuba beat Welham from 10 yards out to give Brooklyn a commanding 3-1 lead in the 81st minute.

Reach contributing writer Arthur V. Claps at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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