By Ralph Chery, Contributor |
After winning the title last year, the City College men’s soccer team’s CUNYAC season ended early in the quarterfinals when Baruch College defeated them 4-2 Wednesday afternoon at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island.
Following a scoreless first half, the Bearcats scored three unanswered goals from the 61st to the 70th minute, through Marcello Neto, Oshae Miller and Shaiem Morad respectively. CCNY attempted to make a comeback as Stephanos Hondrakis netted in the 77th minute, seven minutes before Syed Haider hit the target as well.
Unfortunately for the Beavers, they missed several opportunities to score an equalizer and Baruch’s Dortion Alipaj scored a fourth goal three minutes before the final whistle.
Hondrakis lamented at his team missing the opportunity to score an equalizer late in the game.
“We played hard, we connected passes, we overwhelmed the opponent, we nearly scored almost five goals,” the striker said about the last twenty minutes of the game. “If we were luckier or a little bit more focused, we probably would’ve been able to put those goals away and would’ve been heading off to the semi-final right now.”
Starting midfielder Christopher Lavelle was forced to watch the game from the bench after picking up a concussion during training on October 24th.
The match was scoreless until the 61st minute, when Neto hit a 20-yard free-kick to the bottom left corner of the net away from CCNY’s keeper Maxwell Berkow.
The Bearcats doubled the scoring just six minutes later, when Miller tapped Jaime Zurro’s low cross from the left wing in the net.
Morad collected a ball from Zurro in the box in the 70th minute. The forward was in a tough angle but still managed to beat Berkow, slotting the ball to the lower right corner.
The Beavers made things interesting in the last 20 minutes of the game as they fought for a comeback.
“The last 20 minutes were probably the craziest soccer game I’ve watched in person,” Lavelle said. “We had so many chances to equalize and the way they fought was [the best I’ve seen them] all season long, it was great to watch. Unfortunately we couldn’t win.”
City’s attempt to equalize started when Hondrakis intercepted a Baruch defender’s back pass to his keeper before going around the keeper and hitting the ball in a vacant net.
Stephanos Hondrakis going around Xavier Castillo to score City College’s first goal. Photo by Michelle Rodriguez / CCNY Beavers Soccer
The Beavers scored again seven minutes later. After controlling a through ball from Kevin Muniz, Anthony Scarallo hit a magnificent cross to Haider. Haider headed Scarallo’s header high in the left corner of the net beyond opposing keeper Xavier Carillo.
CCNY hit three more shots in the final four minutes, begging for an equalizer. They were inches away from leveling the score when an unmarked Lanfia Diaby struck Abdul Abdulai’s cross over the net in the 87th minute from the six-yard box.
Baruch made it impossible for the Beavers to comeback when Alipaj dribbled past Aaron Schoenfelder and Mustapha Camara before shooting the ball in the net three minutes from time.
“It’s a tough loss obviously,” Lavelle said. “I think we showed a lot of fight, especially toward the end of the game, they showed that they didn’t want to go out. Unfortunately we couldn’t tie it, that’s the way soccer is sometimes but I know that we’ll be ready for the next year.”
Despite losing early in the playoffs this season, Hondrakis one of eight seniors leaving, is content of the four years he spent playing for City.
“Absolutely,” the forward said when asked if he was satisfied about his career at CCNY. “I have a championship under my belt. It was an amazing experience. If I had one more year I’d play.”
The Beavers’ season is not over yet, they’re set to take on Yeshiva University on Monday at 7:00 p.m. at Randall’s Island Field 72. Last time the two sides met on Nov. 7, 2014, Yeshiva defeated CCNY 3-0.
*Cover photo by Michelle Rodriguez / CCNY Beavers Soccer