BY Jeff Weisinger
Senior Sports Editor
For the first time in 10 years, CCNY’s Men’s Soccer team won the CUNYAC championship, defeating the top-seeded College of Staten Island 2-1 in double overtime on a header by Mostafa Haridi in the 103rd minute.
“It was all coach’s plan,” Haridi explained of the game-winner. “Once they crossed the ball, I went for the ball, I went for the ball and I guess they couldn’t jump high enough and I’m thankful I got the header on.”
Haridi took home the tournament MVP, scoring a go-ahead goal in each of the last two matches. His goal late in the second half against Brooklyn in the semis sealed the Beavers’ 2-0 win and his header Saturday night won the CUNYAC for City.
The Beavers ended the decade-long drought on their second trip to the Final in 10 years. CCNY lost to Baruch 1-0 in overtime in 2013 and lost to the Bearcats again in the CUNYAC quarterfinal in 2014.
“It’s definitely good,” goalkeeper Maxwell Berkow said. “We finally got it done. We were so close two years ago, but things just didn’t go our way. This time it did.”
City lost to the Dolphins 2-1 during the regular season, however this was a much different CCNY side than the one that lost against CSI in the regular season. With a more aggressive approach in the attack and a solidified backline that seems as close to unbreakable as possible, the Beavers played as the aggressor throughout most of the match.
City scored the opening goal in the seventh minute as Syed Haider scored on a throw-in by Anthony Scarallo. Scarallo launched the ball into the six-yard box, past CSI keeper John Gioelli and Haider tapped it into the far post to put City up 1-0.
“We’ve been planning on doing this thing since the start of the season,” Haider said. “I knew Scarallo was going to get a long throw and all I’d have to do is just get to the ball. I saw the ball coming in, nobody was boxing me out, and I just went for it.”
The Dolphins nearly responded in the 13th minute on a liner on-goal by Ilir Papraniku, but Berkow made the routine save.
CCNY would create several more opportunities on goal, however a few of those chances at the end of the half went just wide of the net.
The beginning of the second half told a different story. Despite an early shot by forward Abdul Abdulai, CSI took charge on solid looks and came close to capitalizing on a free kick by Bryan Evo.
CSI finally broke through in the 60th minute as Emmanuel Agboola scored on a breakaway Berkow’s right, putting him in a one-on-one situation and drilled the ball to Berkow’s near post to tie the match at one goal apiece.
“It was really just one lapse of judgement as a team,” Berkow said of CSI’s lone goal. “We were exposed on the counter-attack and didn’t cover properly and they took advantage of it.”
It was Berkow’s first conceded goal of the tournament, and just his third overall in the last six matches.
City played as the aggressor for the final 15 minutes, creating several chances inside of CSI’s 18-yard box, however were unable to capitalize, sending the match to overtime.
In the first overtime, the Dolphins came out firing, nearly scoring in the first minute on a shot by Agboola that went just high. The Beavers backline faced their toughest challenge of the match, trying to fend off the CSI attack from point-blank range.
Stephanos Hondrakis saw his shot on goal miss in the 99th minute and a corner by Marcin Klim missed on his opportunity in the end of the first frame.
Just three minutes into the second and final overtime frame, Aaron Schoenfelder hit the corner from the right side and in a crowd, Haridi jumped and nailed a perfect header to the far post for the game-winner.
The championship win, their fifth overall, marks the first for CCNY since 2005, where they defeated the College of Staten Island 3-2 in overtime.