It didn't look like the third game of the season. It didn't feel like the playoffs were still more than a month away. There were psyched players before, bodies hitting the floor during and tears afterward.
"The first time out anticipations and expectations are always running high," Bayside coach Joe Corrado said after his Commodores girls' soccer team escaped Cardozo with a 1-0 win Friday afternoon in a Queens A-V game. "Every year it's been high against Cardozo and it always will be, because they're a good program."
Cardozo once was the powerhouse in Queens, but now the Judges' neighborhood rivals have taken over that crown. Bayside has not lost to Cardozo since May 8, 2003 and the Commodores have not been defeated in a league game since May 9, 2005 against Francis Lewis.
Bayside was the first Queens girls' soccer team to make the PSAL Class A championship game since 1986 last year. This season, though, could be different and the teams' first of three meetings might have proven that. Senior Zoe Margulies - who scored the game's lone goal in the 22nd minute off a free kick - admitted that the Judges gave her Commodores their most difficult league test in a long time.
"Against 'Dozo is always our toughest game," she said.
This one, especially. Cardozo (2-1 Queens A-V) spent almost the entire second half in Bayside's third. The Judges got numerous chances, most of them generated by senior Francesca Shin and freshman Ebelyse Guaranda, but didn't convert any of them. Part of that was due to Bayside junior goalkeeper Nicole Carroll, who made nine saves, and the team's defense, led by converted midfielder Seena Sleem.
Granted, Bayside (3-0) was without two integral players, sophomores Chelsea Cabarcas and Rebecca Arce. But Cardozo still went toe to toe with the defending division champion.
"We don't judge our performance by the scoreboard," Judges coach Rich Parascos said. "I really feel like we outplayed them...We know we're one of the elite teams now."
After the game, Shin, who physically marked Bayside's star junior striker Despina Psomopoulos well all game, broke down and cried.
"This game meant a lot to me," the Brandeis-bound senior said. "We're rivals with Bayside. Every year we're fighting for the Queens division. Last year, they took it and went all the way to the city finals. We're hoping to take the Queens division this year and go to the finals like they did last year."
Cardozo will have two more chances in the regular season to prove itself against Bayside. The two teams play April 16 and again May 5.
"It's brutal," Corrado said. "Playing them three times in one year is tough."
But it's a good test. The Commodores lost five starters from last year's city runner-up and aren't the same team. This hard-fought win against their rivals could go along way to building confidence, the coach said.
"It was a real gritty, gritty performance by the girls on my team," Corrado said. "It was one of the best wins I've seen them have in years."
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@
©2008 Community News Group
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