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Race for Queens A top spot up for grabs in ’04

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Bayside 4, Cardozo 0.

No, this is not an April Fools’ Joke. The two early season PSAL girls’ soccer results prove that the Queens A division is wide open this year.

By Dylan Butler

Bryant 3, Cardozo 2.

Bayside 4, Cardozo 0.

No, this is not an April Fools’ Joke. The two early season PSAL girls’ soccer results prove that the Queens A division is wide open this year.

Cardozo’s annual dominance is over, at least for this year, as about half of the nine-team division, the largest in the city, can win the division crown.

Based on the first four games of the year, Francis Lewis appears to be the slight favorite, but Bayside, Townsend Harris, Bryant and Cardozo can also win the title come May.

“You can tell the competition level has changed,” said Francis Lewis coach Roger Sarmuksnis. “The course of events are going differently this year than the past five years. … It’s obvious things have changed and hopefully they have changed in our favor.”

Francis Lewis, probably the deepest team in Queens, is 4-0 after beating Townsend Harris, 3-1, Monday at Queens College.

Back for the Patriots are center midfielder Angela Wooley, versatile Caroline Verna and right fullback Irene Prois, while sophomore midfielder Carina Subia should be one of the most dangerous newcomers in the borough.

Bryant coach Pete Maliarkis knows how to make a first impression. In his debut, the Owls upset Cardozo, handing the Judges their first league loss in more than two years.

Bryant followed that up with a pair of lopsided shutout wins over John Adams and Flushing, proving the Owls are indeed serious contenders this year. Leading the way are returnees Cristin Alfonso Zea, Lindsey Molina and Stavroula Giannoukakis.

Despite the two opening season losses, do not count out Cardozo. The Judges lost 11 players from last year’s squad that fell in the PSAL Class A quarterfinals, but there is a solid group of about eight players led by senior forward Catherine Yim.

Center midfielder Katie Mermelstein, keeper Nicole McClure and Kristen Phu are among a promising crop of newcomers for Cardozo coach Rich Parascos, who may be forced to switch to a flat back four for the first time ever because of the inexperience of his team’s defense.

“We should have enough firepower to compete,” said Parascos, whose team beat Richmond Hill Monday. “I’m happy we bounced back after those two losses.”

Townsend Harris is another team that has a completely different look after losing several key players, including last year’s TimesLedger Player of the Year Jackie Miccio, to graduation.

Back for the Hawks is speedy multi-sport star Kathy Dubowski up front as well as midfielders Maria Paschalidis and Erica Russi and defender Kareen Aboujawde.

“I think we’ll come back,” said Townsend Harris coach Chris Hackey, whose team is 1-2. “We have so many new players and it’s going to take some time to get used to one another. It will take a few games.”

After a season-opening 3-1 loss to Francis Lewis, Bayside has reeled off three straight wins including the aforementioned 4-0 rout of neighborhood rival Cardozo.

Is it a fluke? Coach Joe Corrado thinks not.

“The program is starting to mature,” he said. “The future is awesome over here.”

The Commodores have a nice mix of veterans and newcomers this season. Among those back from last year are co-captains Felicia Bunbury and Vanessa D’Alessandro as well as midfielder Ashley Spellman, sweeper Adriana Giandans, forward Danielle Stanley and second-year keeper Elizabeth Mardones.

Among a talented group of first-year players is midfielder Alex Knese, whose brothers Garrett and Jason played for Corrado on the boys’ soccer team as well as defenders Nicole Lee and April Pulgarin.

Rounding out Queens A is Newtown, Richmond Hill, Flushing and John Adams.

For Jamaica, the motivation to do well this year comes from the school’s boys’ soccer team, which won the PSAL Class B title in November.

“They want to do at least as well as the boys,” Jamaica coach Eric Chasanoff said.

A year after reaching the ‘B’ quarterfinals, Jamaica returns a bulk of its scoring punch from last year including junior Rocio Hernandez, who has eight goals in the Beavers’ first three games this year, senior Sabrinna Moore and senior center midfielder Natalie Thompson.

After spending three years as a striker, Kimone McLaughlin will be the team’s starting sweeper and will be joined on the backline by stopper Delma Pott and Josephine Luke.

Jamaica’s stiffest competition in Queens B-I will likely come from Van Buren and Thomas Edison.

Van Buren lost 12 players from last year, but coach Reinaldo Palencia thinks this crop of VeeBees will be even better.

“I think we have a great group,” Palencia said. “I’m much more optimistic this year than last year. Those who are back made tremendous strides, and the new additions have much more experience.”

Returning for Van Buren are senior center midfielders Vanessa Ortiz and Daisy Rubi as well as fullback Crystal Tavarez, who plays club soccer in the Long Island Junior Soccer League.

Palencia says Danielle Spitaleri, a first-year senior forward/midfielder, is one of the top under-19 players in the LIJSL and joins talented freshmen Thalia Hernandez and Heather Tavarez, Crystal Tavarez’s younger sister.

Last season was a dream year for coach Frank DeNunzio at Thomas Edison. In their first season of varsity play, the Inventors lost just two league games and advanced to the ‘B’ quarterfinals before falling to powerhouse Tilden.

Edison will rely on a strong defense this year, led by keeper Nancy Del Sid and sweeper Diana Echeverri, a co-captain with midfielder Sandra Colon.

Carina Edwards and Jodiann Bernard will attempt to fill the scoring void left by Anika Charles, who scored 19 goals last year but will miss the season due to injury.

“I think we’ll be OK,” DeNunzio said. “I can’t say we’ll repeat what we did last year but we’ll be competitive.”

Rounding out Queens B-I is John Bowne, Springfield Gardens, Hillcrest and Campus Magnet.

There appears to be a two-team race for the Queens B-II title once again between Forest Hills and Newcomers. Last year Forest Hills beat Newcomers twice but finished behind the Lions by one point.

A year ago Newcomers made it to the PSAL ‘B’ semifinals, where it lost in penalty kicks to Lab Museum. A repeat performance could certainly be in the cards for the Lions, who have a bevy of returnees including Armela Dosti, Valentina Duque, Jinshu Wang and Nathalie Ferre.

Forest Hills has a nice balance of strong returnees and promising newcomers, but there seems to be one constant on the attack-minded Rangers: Forest Hills is a small but quick team.

Back for Forest Hills is stopper/midfielder Tiffany Thompson, sweeper Olga Driker, defender Jessica Valencia, Angelica Llerena and Carolina Sierra. Samantha Kempis, Ana Islas, Sabrina Beltrano, Denise Martinez and Nicole Moreira are among a talented crop of newcomers.

Rounding out Queens B-II is Long Island City, Arts & Business, Far Rockaway, Beach Channel and Robert F. Wagner.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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