BY Jeff Weisinger
Senior Sports Editor
The last time that CCNY’s Men’s Soccer team won the CUNYAC title, George W. Bush was president of the United States, YouTube had just launched, Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch and Star Wars Episode III hit the theaters. The year was 2005.
Better yet, most of the players on the 2015 CCNY Men’s Soccer roster were about 10 years old – let that sink in.
In less than 24 hours, City will once again go after their fourth CUNYAC title in the program’s history since the three-peat in the early 90’s. CCNY returns to the CUNYAC Final Saturday against the College of Staten Island (4:30 p.m., Brooklyn College) for the first time since 2013 when they lost to Baruch College 1-0 in overtime.
“It’s great to be back,” defender Anthony Scarallo said. “Obviously, last year was a disappointment – going out in the first round of the playoffs. Ever since we lost in the Final two years ago, it was our goal to get back there and now to finish the job off.
“Obviously the school hasn’t won in 10 years. It would be huge. The driving factor [Saturday] is going to be two years ago, losing in the Final the way we did.”
That has been the theme with the Beavers since their Final loss two years ago: “finish the job.” However it’s taken them longer than they would’ve liked to return to the championship game. CCNY struggled throughout the 2014 campaign, going just 6-11-1, losing to Baruch 3-1 in the quarterfinals, ending a season on a bad note as they lost four of their last five.
They played the Bearcats to a scoreless draw just two weeks before their playoff match.
“As freshmen, you really don’t realize how special it is to be in the Final,” Scarallo added. “Getting back there is huge for us.”
“After getting there freshmen year, we just expected that we’re going to get there again next year and we’re going to just get there year after year, and we got loose one game and that cost us,” goalkeeper Maxwell Berkow explained.
The Beavers enter their second CUNYAC Final appearance in two years off of a 2-0 win over tournament host Brooklyn College last Saturday. City (10-7-0, 5-3-0 CUNYAC) has been dominant throughout the playoffs, winning seven of their last nine games entering Saturday’s Final. CCNY has allowed just two goals in the last five games and has yet to concede a goal throughout the CUNYAC playoffs.
Berkow has been stellar in the net once again for the Beavers this season, ranking first in the CUNYAC in both save percentage (.800) and total saves (92). CCNY ranks first in the conference in shutout percentage (.290), earning five shutouts this season. They’ve allowed just one goal in seven matches, winning five of them.
CCNY’s offensive attack is hitting on all cylinders as well. Along with their improved defensive play, the Beavers have outscored opponents 12-2 in the past five matches, and they’ve earned contributions all around. Newly converted right back Clifford Leriche scored his first goal of the season in last Saturday’s win against Brooklyn and Mostafa Haridi sealed the win with his second goal of the season in the second half.
“We can put faith in our offense to get their goals and we do our job, that’s it,” Berkow said.
“I feel like this is the best we’ve been playing in two years,” Scarallo added.
“This is the most confident we feel as a team. We step onto the field, we expect to win at this point. We believe with everything that we can get this job done and win.”
The 2015 CUNYAC Final is a rematch of the 2005 Final which City won 3-2 in overtime over the Dolphins. CSI is in their first Final match since 2007 and looking for their first title CUNYAC title since 1998.