Judges working on making pieces fit

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Cardozo believes it has the individual pieces to be one of the best teams in the city this season. It is molding them all into a cohesive unit that is the challenge for first-year girls soccer Coach Stephanie Santoro.

“I think we need to work together more as a team and not just as individuals,” Santoro said. “Otherwise I think we have a talented group and we can go a long way if we just utilize our skills.”

She believes the Judges will be as good as goalkeeper Amanda Cole will take them. The senior is the squad’s fiery and vocal leader, pushing her teammates to start thinking as high as a city title. She has excellent instincts in net, is good with the ball at her feet and has a solid goal kick. The Judges finished 8-5-1 last season in Queens A-IV and lost to eventual city champion McKee/Staten Island Tech in the second round.

“I know the team has talent and the potential,” Cole said. “I know we can win the division.”

Added junior forward Ebelyse Guaranda, “It gets everyone hyped because [Cole] is very determined.”

She should be part of a strong defense with athletic sweeper Creshana Jones. The junior was used more in an offensive role last season scoring 10 goals and could still see some time at midfield, but was moved to the backline to solidify that portion of the field. Freshman Elvisa Mackic could see some time on defense, but has the versatility to also play up front.

“She is like a cat back there,” Santoro said of Jones. “She will get anything. She will run anywhere. She will go even when she is tired.”

Guaranda, who scored six goals last season, will be looked upon to do more, especially for a Cardozo offense, which includes center midfielder Courtney O’Buckley, that still needs to develop without Jones helping all the time. She is a physical force who plays with an energy and tenacity on every play. Santoro would be ecstatic if the ball touches Guaranda’s feet every time it passes through the midfield.

“When we are losing she really knows how to step her game up,” Jones said. “She is a really good playmaker.

The components for a team that can become a contender, along with division rivals Francis Lewis and Bayside, are there. It will just take some time to see how well they work together and what they will produce.

“Everyone is still trying to get used to everything,” Guaranda said. “Everyone has to step their game up.”

Reach Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@nypost.com.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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