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Knights fall to Rhode Island, playoffs in doubt

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It’s a less-than-ideal situation, but one that is all too familiar to the Brooklyn Knights. For the 11th time in 14 games, the Knights found themselves in an early 1-0 hole Sunday night at the Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth.

The combination of the early deficit and an inability to finish numerous scoring chances proved to be a bad one for the Knights, which dropped a 2-1 decision to the Rhode Island Stingrays.

The loss, only the Knights’ second in their last six games, all but eliminated third place Brooklyn (6-8, 27 pts. Northeast Division) from the Premier Development League playoffs. A win by surging second place Cape Cod in a game scheduled for Wednesday would be the final blow.

“This loss was pretty much a dagger,” said Brooklyn Knights head coach Dan Fisher. “It’s very tough to get into the playoffs considering Cape Cod and [first place] Vermont are so high in the standings. We just wanted to give them something to play for because it’s hard to come out and try and win a game when there’s no sun at the end.”

Despite the ability to field players over the age of 23, according to PDL rules, the Knights made a club decision last year to field a team exclusively 23 and under.

Last season Brooklyn finished second in the Northeast Division, behind national champions Westchester, but this year the younger players have shown their inexperience at some very inopportune moments.

In the 13th minute a Brooklyn defensive miscue led to Rhode Island’s first goal as Peter Benevides’ cross deflected off a Knights defender and past keeper Billy Gaudette, who challenged for the ball, and onto the foot of Zico Antunes, who easily slotted the ball into the open net from eight yards out to put the Stingrays (4-9-1 Northeast Division) ahead, 1-0.

The Knights tied the game in the 22nd minute on a brilliant build up that was started by midfielder Angel Rodriguez, who slotted the ball to St. John’s teammate Andre Schmid.

Schmid played a great ball to a streaking Shaun Higgins, who sped past defenders and sent a low shot from 18 yards out that glanced off the right hand of Rhode Island keeper Peter Mahoney and inside the far post to tie the game at 1.

But another defensive breakdown led to the Stingrays second, and eventual game winning, goal six minutes later. This time it was Val Teixeria providing the cross into the box and Benevides beat a defender to the far post to send a one-timer past Gaudette from five yards out to put Rhode Island in front, 2-1.

Brooklyn pushed for the equalizer, outshooting Rhode Island 14-8 in the second half (25-14 total), but Mahoney was spectacular in the net for the Stingrays. He made six saves, including robbing Schmid — who had a game-high 11 shots — on a pair of point blank headers.

The Knights had a golden scoring chance in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time in the second half, but Higgins’ volley from 20 yards out skipped inches wide of the far post.

“This game was more mental mistakes and not being able to finish our scoring chances,” Fisher said. “Physical mistakes will happen, especially on this level with a young and inexperienced team, but mental mistakes are something I can’t tolerate.”

The Knights, who finished the season 3-5 at home, play their final four games of the year on the road. Brooklyn plays at New Jersey Thursday at 8 p.m. before heading to Cranston, R.I. to take on the same Stingrays Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“We just have to stay focused and play every game like it’s our last,” Fisher said. “If the players gain experience in the next games and bring it to their college seasons or to the next level, then we did our job. I hope we all learned from this loss, I know I did.”

Brooklyn Knights 3, Worcester Kings 1. It was the Schmid and Higgins show Saturday night at the Oval as the Knights erased an early 1-0 deficit to score three unanswered goals in a 3-1 win.

After Ricardo Monje’s penalty kick put Worcester (5-8, 24 pts.) ahead 1-0 in the 17th minute, Schmid scored the first of his two goals in the 36th minute, sending in a rebound of a Higgins blast that rang off the post, to tie the game at 1.

Worcester was reduced to 10 men after forward Geoff Walker picked up his second yellow card caution and was sent off in the 49th minute and Brooklyn went ahead for a good seven minutes later on a picture perfect combination.

Schmid chested Chris Lefferts’ ball down the sideline in stride to Higgins and the Whitestone native put the ball past Worcester keeper Josh Cole to put Brooklyn in front, 2-1.

Schmid added an insurance goal in the 88th minute, beating Cole inside the near post from 15 yards out on a pass from Higgins to give the Knights an elusive bonus point for scoring three goals in a game.

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

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