By Ralph Chery, Contributor |
City College, last year’s CUNYAC soccer champions, started their preseason campaign with a 3-0 loss to the Centenary College Cyclones in a scrimmage at Mayo Field (N.J.) on Wednesday afternoon.
The scrimmage was divided into three half-hour periods in which head coach Roberto Ignaccolo rotated all 24 players present.
CCNY’s defenders failed to stick to their men in the box, allowing Bolaji Martins and John Weis of Centenary to score three unmarked goals—two for Weis. On the offensive end, the strikers didn’t hit a single shot on target.
To take away from the weight of the loss, the team only had three training sessions before the scrimmage, their starting eleven didn’t play more than 30 minutes together, and nine players competed for the first time at the collegiate level.
“It’s never easy at first,” last year’s team MVP Anthony Scarallo said about playing with the freshmen for the first time. “But every practice we’re getting more and more used to each other so over time it will work itself out.”
CCNY started the scrimmage with seven of their starters from last season, missing Maxwell Berkow and Stephanos Hondrakis due to personal reasons, and Clifford Leriche and Mostafa Haridi who both graduated. Top scorer Kenan Redzematovic returned to the starting lineup after missing City’s last six games due to a knee injury he suffered against John Jay College on October 17, 2015.
Centenary dominated early on and eventually took the lead in the ninth minute of play.
Matthew Miller dispossessed Lanfia Diaby in the middle of the pitch before hitting an inch perfect through ball to Weis, who was completely unmarked inside the Beavers’ penalty area. Keeper Marcus De Pompeis came off his line but was unable to save Weis’ shot.
Ignaccolo shifted gears in the second half-hour period and subbed some of the newcomers in, leaving Scarallo and Abdul Abdulai the only veterans on the field. The Cyclones doubled their lead on City in the same manner as they did against the first team, by getting behind the defenders.
Miller hit the ball over the top to Sebastian Hernandez toward the left wing. Hernandez then found an unmarked Weis, who had no problem directing the ball in the back of the net at the hour mark. It was Weis’ second goal of the game.
New keeper Halil Yenerer had a chance to redeem himself six minutes into the third half-hour period. Weis’ cross found an open Jared Miele inside the box, who chested the ball before firing a shot to the left corner of the net. The ball was on its way in the net, but Ayyildiz stretched to his right to perform a breathtaking one-handed save.
“It felt good,” the keeper said about his saves, “After you make a save it’s the greatest feeling ever, you know, especially for a goalie. But I feel like I could’ve done better coming out with the ball, grabbing it… stuff like that comes with more playing time.”
Yenerer had three saves in 45 minutes.
CCNY were more comfortable passing the ball in middle of the third half-hour period but they still couldn’t put a shot on target nor did they find a solution for their problem in the back. Bolaji Martins was left alone in the back post as he tapped in Weis’ cross in the corner of the net with only five minutes left in the game.
Team captain Abdul Abdulai pinpointed that the team needs more playing time together in order to get back to the form they had last year.
“This is like super-super early [in the season]. It’s going to be hard… I don’t see us doing anything spectacular in our first five games, it’s going to be hard on us. We’re going to have to use those first five games to learn how to play as a team.”
The Beavers’ first official game will be against Carthage College on September 1st at 11 a.m. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
*Cover photo by Ralph Chery / CCNY BeaverBeat