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Francis Lewis wins first girls’ soccer playoff game

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Francis Lewis met an old adversary last Thursday: the first round of the girls’ PSAL ‘A’ soccer playoffs. But instead of lying down like lambs like they have for the past two years, the Patriots dominated Beacon High School of Manhattan, 2-0, at Flushing Meadow Park in front of an animated crowd of 150 in an ‘S’ bracket game.

No. 2 Francis Lewis drew inspiration from two sources: its playoff drought and a perceived lack of publicity from the media. The Patriots played like attention-starved kids out to prove that their undefeated regular season — the only blemishes were a forfeit to John Adams and a tie with Townsend Harris — was no fluke.

“They were hungry today, and maybe we didn’t have that,” said Beacon’s coach, Kevin Jacobs, a quarterfinalist the past three seasons. “This game was ours if we wanted it. We came out stronger, and we were in control of the game’s pace for the first 15 minutes … but it doesn’t matter if you don’t score any goals.”

The Blue Demons had scoring chances early as Francis Lewis, unsure of how Beacon would play, was caught off guard by their speedy forwards, who erupted for three shots on goal in the first five minutes.

The Patriots (14-1-1, Queens A) saw Beacon play only once this season, but even if they had followed them, they couldn’t have prepared for sophomore Alisha Neptune. Neptune started at forward instead of her usual sweeper position and immediately seized control, dribbling down the right sideline and chipping a shot into the hands of sophomore goalkeeper Rosamaria Marzulli from 15 yards out in the second minute.

With No. 3 Beacon in attack mode, the Patriots received a much-needed caffeine boost from Carolin Verna and Angela Wooley. On a counter-attack mini-breakaway, Verna, a senior with vivid memories of twice losing in the playoffs, stole the ball around midfield and dribbled down the right sideline. Sensing that too many defenders were marking her, she crossed the ball to Wooley, who tapped the ball in to go up 1-0 in the 13th minute.

“With this team this year, something happens (after they score the first goal) where they want to score again,” said Roger Sarmuksnis, the Patriots’ fourth-year coach. “In soccer, once you go up one or two goals, you can pretty much coast.”

Six minutes later, midfielder Carina Subia right-footed the ball into the left side of the net, after the ball deflected off the post to give Francis Lewis a 2-0 lead. That prompted Jacobs to move Neptune back to sweeper, in effect sacrificing offense for defense, a concern for Beacon because stopper Tali Ziv left the game in the second half with an ankle injury.

Sarmuksnis also had his hand on defense forced because of an injury to Subia, who left the game after landing awkwardly on her right knee from a trip in the 45th minute. Francis Lewis went to a double-stopper alignment, and the adjustment gave Beacon (8-3-3, Bronx/Manhattan A) the chance to push up on offense where it nearly scored a goal in the 57th minute. Christina Flanagan and Jessica Aquilon were strong for Lewis on defense.

“We’re really happy with how far we’ve come so far, but we don’t want to stop here,” said Flanagan, a junior sweeper from Whitestone. “I think we have the team to do it.”

Francis Lewis played No. 1 Mckee/Staten Island on Wednesday after this paper went to press.

Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext 130.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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