One-peat, Two-peat, Three-peat, Four!
By: Natalia Sandor
The women’s soccer team took on the John Jay Bloodhounds at Brooklyn College for the 2018 CUNYAC Championship.
After a well fought match, the Dolphins were victorious and left the complex not just as champions, but undefeated in the CUNYAC.
Lauren Smith, a senior captain in the nursing program, buried a hat trick in the first half of the game leading the Dolphins to a 6-2 win. The Dolphins finished their season with a 12-6 record, advancing to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
CUNYAC leading goal-scorer, Samantha LaValle, placed the Dolphin’s third goal in the back of the net, despite the difficult angle of the shot, after utilizing her technical skills and exposing a defender on the John Jay team.
When asked about how it feels winning the CUNYAC for the first time LaValle stated, “It is such an amazing feeling! We definitely deserved it and I am so proud of all of us.”
Three minutes after LaValle’s goal, Smith completed her hat trick and proved to be a keystone player of the game.
She stated, “I definitely did not think I was going to do as well as I did, everyone always dreams of scoring in the finals, let alone a hat trick, so it was just amazing to be able to do that.”
“It is definitely a dream come true to be able to win all four years that I have been here,” said Smith who is part of the first graduating class to win four consecutive NCAA bid producing CUNYAC championships.
Smith also added, “We all wanted it so bad and we knew we just had to go out there and play our hearts out.”
The girls wear bracelets given to them by head coach, Brittany Casares, that say, “Play your heart out,”and it seems that Saturday reflected nothing less. “I can’t tell you how excited I am, it just feels unreal,” says Casares who pocketed her first CUNYAC title after beginning her position as head coach this past July.
Casares stated, “I just think about where we started and how we are playing our best soccer. I think about how we are confident on the ball, how close we are as a team and how we are like a family and that says a lot more about us as a team than winning does.”
It is this cohesion that occurs off the field which is reflected in the chemistry on the field.
Rebecca D’Aloia, a brick wall of a defender and the sonic speed of the team, expressed her experience with the tight-knit nature of this team as she explained, “I am glad to be a part of this program and play with a great group of girls.” D’Aloia proves to be an asset to this program each time she steps foot on the field.
In the 40th minute, a CSI foul created a free kick opportunity which was taken by Anneliese Tucci of John Jay College leading to the first goal for the Bloodhounds. CSI was quick to change the momentum when Adrianna Parello capitalized off a penalty kick taken in the 56th minute.
Parello continued to shine with a perfectly placed cross, leading to LaValle’s second goal of the match off a stunning volley. At the completion of the game, Smith was named “Most Valuable Player.”
The three goals buried by Smith marks the first hat trick ever recorded in a women’s CUNYAC final. In response to this tremendous and well deserved honor Smith stated, “I am so excited to be able to end my career at CSI with MVP, I could not imagine it ending a better way honestly”.
Kaila DiBenedetto, CSI’s incredibly talented goalkeeper, seemed to agree that this match could not have ended with a better result. “Call us Wendy’s because we are four-for-four,” said DiBenedetto with great enthusiasm.
This was the Dolphin’s 10th time being named CUNY Champs and it marks the unit’s fourth consecutive win. The six goals scored by the Dolphins were the most scored in a CUNYAC Championship to date.
The women’s soccer team has drawn Christopher Newport University for their first match in the NCAA Division III tournament and will be leaving for Virginia.
They leave with smiles of celebration but understand that their job is not done just yet.