Beach Channel could have decided to wallow in their own misery after falling in double overtime to defending PSAL champions Tottenville May 3.
Senior midfielder Courtney Gallagher said her young team, which finished 7-7 and gained the fifth seed in the PSAL Championship playoffs, reached a positive conclusion.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god we’re going to get killed against Tottenville.’ We came out and played like a team, we had great chemistry. We went to two rounds of overtime,” Gallagher said. “We kept that game in our heads the entire week, talking to each other every night.”
Beach Channel brought that positive belief Tuesday afternoon to Oakdale Gardens, avenging a pair of regular season defeats to Cardozo by beating the Judges, 9-5, in the quarterfinals.
The Dolphins (8-7) have been a completely different team than the one that was handily beaten, 13-6 in the regular season opener, and 16-7 on April 25.
The Rockaway Park school won three of its last four regular season games and carried that good form against the Judges, ranked No. 8 in New York City by MSG Varsity.
Gallagher got Beach Channel off to a strong start by scoring four times as the Dolphins raced out to a 5-1 lead with 10:37 left in the first half. Melisa Williams added a goal in each half while goalie Tianna (Taco) Parkes sparkled at the end of the half, making a few key saves to stave off the Judges, which had pulled within 5-4.
Dolphins coach Sam Innes, who led the school to back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, credited the team for following his game plan to the letter.
Judges midfielder Carly Chierico was doubled and sometimes triple-teamed and was held to one goal after scoring 38 in the regular season. The Dolphins also remained level headed when Cardozo attempted to wrest the lead at key times of the game.
“The girls executed the game plan to perfection,” Innes said. “They knew it was going to be a dogfight.”
La Shawn Pearce and Courtney Kingston started the Cardozo first-half rally with a goal each. Middie Milana Larin added a pair to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 6:49 left in the first half. Lillian Zhang then had the first of three goals wiped out as the referees ruled the senior attacker had her foot in the crease when making the shot attempt.
Parkes made sure her team’s lead held up with two point-blank saves, while Cardozo coach Lou Decicco stewed on the sidelines as another Zhang goal was disallowed with 1:16 left.
Praised by her coach for being an energetic and positive teammate, Parkes coined her interesting nickname after attending a lacrosse clinch in Boston two summers ago. She was told to pick a handle by using the first letter of her initial and name it after a food. She chose taco instead of tuna fish or a turnip.
“The first time we played them it felt like it was 90 degrees, so we was playing slow and barely warmed up. We had that mentality that we was going to lose,” Parkes said. [The Tottenville game] boosted our confidence. It made us think we could beat any team and I think we could.”
Chierico got the Judges off to a flying start with a goal just 28 seconds into the second half. Just two minutes later, Cardozo watched another tally by Pearce get taken away from another violation in the crease.
Beach Channel took control of the game with a Tierra Holmes goal to make it 9-5 with 18:58 left in the second half. Decicco said his team was desponded and frustrated for most of the game.
“The more we tried to fight, the worse things were going,” Decicco said. “We felt like we had to play that much harder to beat the calls, we had to play harder than we do. We got to push even further to catch up.”
It was earlier in the season when Innes told assistant Kerri Walsh that pre-season losses to Stuyvesant and Hunter College HS could mean a long season. That has been long forgotten at this point with a semifinal game Thursday at Tottenville with the chance to make up for a defeat that truly changed their campaign.
“It’s been a thrill,” Innes said. “We didn’t know what to expect and make up the goals from last year. It’s been different girls who have stepped up this year.”