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PSAL forms ‘B’ league for girls soccer teams

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With half of the city’s girls soccer programs in Brooklyn and Queens, PSAL girls’ soccer commissioner Will Stasiuk decided to establish a ‘B’ division for some of the teams in each borough that struggled in recent years.

In Queens, the B division will consist of Arts and Business, Beach Channel, Campus Magnet, Far Rockaway, Flushing, Hillcrest, John Adams, Van Buren and Richmond Hill.

The top four teams from Queens B will compete with the top four teams in Brooklyn B in the First Annual Brooklyn-Queens Cup, which will conclude on Brooklyn-Queens Day, June 6 at Midwood High School.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Hillcrest coach Matt Strong. “It’s a chance for teams like ours to develop. The girls playing in the B division are not coming from club programs, they’re learning soccer on the high school field.”

Leading Hillcrest, which was 7-8 last season and is a team known for its aggressive style, is sophomore midfielder Juliana Lucena, who also plays volleyball at Hillcrest, senior midfielder Joanna Lopez, senior defender Celia Lawes and senior forward Melissa Richards.

John Adams should be one of the teams to beat in Queens B this year. Last year, a young Spartans team went 2-7 early before rallying to go 5-0-1 in its final six games to just miss out on the playoffs.

Head coach Mark Wilson hopes his inexperienced team, featuring 15 of its 26 players who have never played soccer before, can mesh a bit quicker this season.

But just because some lack experience doesn’t mean there is a lack of talent. Sophomore midfielder Brenda Mathura never played before, but Wilson calls her “a natural.”

Other top players include senior forward Marja-Lisa Yee, who led the Spartans with 17 goals last year, junior forward Michelle Rizzo, sophomore midfielder/forward Maura Torres, junior midfielders Leydi Escobar and Fallon Melendez, senior Jackelyn Soto, who should anchor the defense and newcomers Jamie Roopnarine and Aris Garcia who will split time in goal.

Sergio Jimenez is in his first year as coach of Flushing after Lance Rochester left following a 2-12 year last season. Like so many teams in the B division, Jimenez has an inexperienced group but he feels the potential is there.

“I’m still cautiously optimistic,” Jimenez said. “From what the players said, we should have a better team than last year.”

Jimenez believes the Red Devils two strengths are its defense, led by Natalie Bravo and its offense, featuring forwards Jennifer Soto and Adriana Navarrete and midfielders Michelle Lopez and Lourdes Minaya.

Van Buren coach Greg Fishman is also all for the formation of the B division and the VeeBees may be one of the teams to most benefit from the change. Last year the team scored just three goals, went 1-8-1 and lost its top player, stopper Rachel Klutse, as well as six others, to graduation.

Back are co-captains Raquel Toc, a junior midfielder, and Anik Warner, a junior defender. Sophomore forwards Vanessa Ortiz and Marilyn Bran should help Toc improve on last year’s goal scoring total and junior midfielder Bianca Rose is one of the team’s most promising newcomers.

Numbers are up for Campus Magnet, which now means coach Don Haynes can substitute. Last year the Bulldogs, who finished 2-7-1, only fielded a 10-player roster and usually played with just nine players on the field.

“We should have a better team this year,” Haynes said. “We have a lot of different athletes and I should be able to teach them something about soccer. My main priority right now is set up my defense and midfield and everything else will fall into place.”

Rounding out the B division is Richmond Hill, Arts and Business, Beach Channel and Far Rockaway.

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

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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