Cardozo girls fall in soccer semis

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Losing one game all season, as the Benjamin N. Cardozo girls’ soccer team did this year, is a tremendous accomplishment.

But when the one loss comes in the semifinals of the PSAL ‘A’ playoffs, it’s a letdown.

On Sunday, the fourth-seeded Seagulls (20-2) soundly defeated the top-seeded Judges, 3-1, at McKee/Staten Island Tech High School to prevent Cardozo from becoming the first Queens team to reach the finals since 1986 when Richmond Hill played for the title.

McKee/Tech will play No. 3 Tottenville at Long Island University on Friday at 7:00 pm in its first ever girls soccer championship game and in the first all-Staten Island finals since 1995.

“We have to learn how to come out with intensity right from the get-go,” Cardozo coach Rich Parascos said. “We never really established a rhythm or did the things that made us successful [this season].”

“I don't think we played our style as much as we wanted to," senior Raquelle Agranoff added. “It always seemed like [McKee/Tech] was there to intercept our plays.”

The Seagulls pressured the Judges (17-1-2) from the opening whistle, but they didn’t break the game open until the second half on two goals by freshman Chelsea Tate.

She scored her first goal from 18-yards out at in the 49th minute after racing down the left side and shaking off defender Catherine Marchese.

Tate’s second goal in the 56th minute was nearly identical as she took as pass from Tiffany Orlowski and, after coming down the left side, pushed the ball past goalkeeper Lisa Prasso (12 saves).

“Our first step towards being able to win big games was defeating Tottenville [on May 15],” Tate said. The league loss for Tottenville was its first since 1993. “Once we beat them, we knew were capable of playing well against anyone.”

Lauren Baydel and speedster Valerie D’Ambrosi helped the Seagulls win numerous loose balls and create scoring chances around the box in the first half. Prasso kept her team in the game with eight first half saves. She stopped Baydel from in close in the 21st minute mark and 15 minutes later made a diving stop on Kimberly Scotto.

D’Ambrosi netted the half’s lone goal with 5:21 left when she dribbled from the left side to the front of the net and let go of a 12-yard blast. An indication of the one-sided ball possession, the Seagulls outshot Cardozo 13-4 in the first.

“[Cardozo] intimidated some opponents this season,” McKee/Tech coach Anthony DiMaggio said. “They are a physical team, but you can’t hit what you can’t catch.”

Gina Crifasi made eight saves for the Seagulls, but lost her shutout bid when Tara Martin scored with two minutes remaining. Patricia Sotirakis took a corner kick that rebounded to the top of the box from where Martin took her shot. Sotirakis, who was shadowed by Amanda Montalvo for much of the game, was limited to a couple of shots on goal.

“I don’t know if they planned it,” junior Sotirakis said. “There always seemed to be two or three [defenders] around me.”

Tottenville (24-3-1) reached the finals for the ninth time in the last 10 years by drubbing No. 7 Susan Wagner, 5-0, in the first semifinal game. Tina Cortese scored twice and Elizabeth Belnavis, Danielle Marino and Ryan Kelly each added a goal to lead the Pirates.

Cardozo 3, Bronx Science 0. Sotirakis may have scored the game-winner 25 minutes into the first half of last Wednesday’s quarterfinal match at Bayside Athletic Field, it was her second goal that truly put the game away for the top-seeded Judges.

After leading No. 8 Bronx Science (18-4, 16-1) just 1-0 after the opening 40 minutes, Sotirakis put the game away with her 28th goal of the year 28 seconds into the second half on a 20-yard blast into the upper left corner of the net. Cardozo 18 added an insurance goal in the 60th minute.

Far Rockaway 4, John Adams 3. Marja-Lisa Yee scored two goals and Maura Torres added another for Adams (12-2-1 Queens B), but SeaHorses keeper Peta-Gaye Thomas tied the game with a penalty shot following a hand ball in the box and Shellion Clarke netted the game-winner three minutes into overtime for Far Rockaway (8-7 Queens B).

Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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