BY RALPH CHERY
CCNY Soccer writer
City College’s men’s soccer team were unable to hold on to the lead as Staten Island rallied back for a 2-1 at CSI Soccer Complex Saturday afternoon.
Abdul Rashid Abdulai put the visiting Beavers ahead in the 26th minute, and nearly had a brace, but CSI’s Philip Lefkowitz cancelled out Abdulai’s goal at the half hour mark. Mohammed Ndao finished CSI’s comeback with a goal scored in the 65th minute of play. CCNY put up a fight to equalize late in the second half but the strikers constantly failed to make their way to the ball.
“Our strikers didn’t time their runs well. On the whole I think we were just unlucky today,” City’s captain Abdulai said.
CCNY head coach coach Roberto Ignaccolo started the game with four freshmen on the field — freshman Christian Pena came close to opening the scoring only seven minutes into the game as Anthony Scarallo sent in a long-throw which Pena jumped to get a head on the ball. CSI’s keeper Kyle Coffey palmed the ball to deny the freshman from scoring his first collegiate goal.
Beside this early chance CSI was the team dominating early on.
Indeed Ndao and Rubin Diaz were inches from heading Brayan Evo’s corner kicks in the net up to 14 minutes in the game, but the Beavers’ defense was compact and City goalkeeper Maxwell Berkow bagged a couple of saves to counter CSI’s early threats.
Their defense was rewarded on Abduali’s goal in the 26th minute. Abdulai won the ball from a CSI defender and decided to take a shot out of the blue. The midfielder was deep in midfield and far in the corner, his shot was deflected leaving CSI no chance.
It took the Dolphins five minutes to answer.
Staten Island’s high pressing forced a rare giveaway from City center back Syed Haider in his defensive third. As soon as the ball worked his way to him, Dardan Nika crossed the ball in the box. Lefkowitz charged at Nika’s cross to put the ball past Berkow with a stunning header.
The City defender has been playing strong all season, he humbled up after his slip up. “They were pressing too high instead of clearing it long I tried to put it to the side… they just capitalized on our mistake, on my mistake,” Haider said.
With a tied match at halftime, both teams were eager to gain the lead in the second half.
In the 65th minute Ndao controlled the ball after Nermin Kurtesi’s shot was deflected, and whipped the ball in the net, completing CSI’s turnaround, 2-1.
The Beavers looked for an equalizer all the way to the final whistle, but no one was there to finish Abdulai’s cross in the 72nd minute nor Diaby’s corner in the 83rd and so on. Their best effort was Haider’s header that went just over the net.
This loss drops CCNY to seventh place in the CUNYAC with two points. City will look to end their four -match losing-streak against Bekerley College home at Randall’s Island on Monday at 4 p.m.