It was a game that had no bearing on the final PSAL Championship division standings.
But good luck convincing New Dorp and Cardozo Monday afternoon’s regular season finale was meaningless.
The Central Cougars already had second place locked up, but they wanted to rebound from a disheartening loss to rival Tottenville, while the third-place Judges were hoping to prove they’re a legit playoff contender.
New Dorp left Oakdale Gardens with a tight 4-3 victory, but both teams felt it was mission accomplished.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game, but it was great we bounced back and won it,” New Dorp attackman Shawn Brackett said.
The senior leads the Central Cougars with 30 goals, but he’s been in a bit of a rut lately. However, he got out of that in a big way Monday with three of his team’s four goals.
“He’s kind of getting his mojo back, his timing, his dodges and everything back,” New Dorp goalie Chris Fiore said.
Fiore, meanwhile, never lost his mojo. Arguably the city’s best goalie, Fiore made eight saves, none bigger than a point-blank stop late in the fourth quarter to rob Justin Dong of the potential equalizer.
“When we’re playing well on offense and we have more of a balance in our game, he’s even better,” New Dorp coach Brian Murphy said of Fiore. “He’s had to make a lot of saves the last couple of weeks because we’ve been struggling a little. But he’s always there for us. He’s the best.”
Cardozo goalie Christopher Yeh proved he’s among the league’s best between the pipes, as well. He followed up a solid performance in a 4-2 win over Midwood Friday to make 15 saves against New Dorp’s potent attack.
“In all honesty, they’re two of the top goalies in the league,” Cardozo coach Chris Milani said. “You have to tip your cap to both of them.”
Milani said he changed a defense that leaked a dozen goals in a 12-1 loss on Staten Island April 16 and the result was a much tighter effort in front of Yeh Monday.
The Judges, though, struggled to stop New Dorp in transition. That’s how Brackett scored his first two goals, including a breakaway with 1:36 left in the second quarter to give the Central Cougars a 3-0 halftime lead.
“It’s really just reaction,” Brackett said of his second goal. “I don’t really think placement or anything like.”
Brackett put New Dorp (10-2), ranked No. 8 in New York City by MSG Varsity, in front, 1-0, just 1:24 into the first quarter and Kyle Hand doubled the advantage with a goal in front of the net with 2:20 left in the opening quarter.
Still, the Central Cougars knew a three-goal edge wasn’t safe, not against a Cardozo team playing for its seniors in their last home game.
“After halftime, I knew they were going to come out guns blazing,” Fiore said. “You can’t stop everything, that’s just natural.”
Dong scored a goal in each of the third and fourth quarters and Kevin Chen also put the ball past Fiore to cut the Judges deficit to 4-3. But that was as close as No. 10 Cardozo (8-4) would get.
Cardozo hosts No. 6 Columbus in a first-round game next Tuesday with the winner heading to second-seeded New Dorp, which has a first-round bye.
That means one more home game for the Cardozo seniors.
“They have an opportunity to redeem themselves,” Milani said. “They’ll be going all out for this won. The seniors have to make their last game on this field a win. Hopefully we can get that one for them.”
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