By Dylan Butler
Gerald Prophete waited 10 months for this day. After winning the PSAL 'B' city title on a blustery November morning, Prophete and his teammates on the Bayside soccer team capped an undefeated season and earned the school's first bid into the A division in years.
Prophete wanted the chance to prove the Commodores belonged in the A division and Wednesday at Bayside Athletic Field, the team got its opportunity against none other than their cross-town rivals from Cardozo High School. Bayside seized the chance to make a statement by drubbing the Judges, 3-0, in the first “Battle of Bayside” in the Queens 'A' East division.
“Everyone was saying we couldn't survive in the A division and I thought we played well today,” said Prophete, who scored a goal in the win. “We earned our spot in the A.”
Despite returning several players from the undefeated team last year, Prophete knew playing in the A division this year wouldn't be easy without Max Tai, the Commodores leading scorer from last year, who moved to Florida.
“It's hard on us, but our captains, Jeremy [O'Brien] and Tallin [Lamonaca], had to lift up the team spirit,” Prophete said. “Without Max, our heads were down, but Coach [Joe] Corrado made us hung in there and we didn't give up at all.”
Bayside (1-0) came out fired up against Cardozo, as just 10 minutes into the game Prophete had a breakaway, but his low shot towards the far post from 16 yards out was stopped by Cardozo sophomore keeper Neal Kitson.
Three minutes later, Prophete had another golden chance as some quick touches from David Salazar to Sam Yoon found Prophete open 10 yards out, but the junior forward, who burnt the Judges down the flanks all game, chipped the ball just wide.
“We were knocking on the door,” Corrado said. “We just picked it up at the end.”
After dominating the game and having nothing to show for it, Bayside finally broke through in the 72nd minute on a Salazar free kick five yards in from the Bayside sideline. The sophomore midfielder beat Kitson low to the far post from 20 yards out to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.
“At first I was thinking about making a cross ,” Salazar said. “But at the last second I decided to take a straight shot and took the opportunity to score the first goal.”
Salazar's goal opened the flood gates, as Bayside scored three goals in a five-minute span to break the game open. On a lead pass from Andrew Stelios, Prophete raced into the box, dribbled to the left of a diving Kitson, and slid the ball into the open net from five yards out to give Bayside a two goal lead in the 75th minute.
Salazar struck again two minutes later, chipping John Tejada's pass into the net from five yards out to put the Commodores up 3-0.
“Sometimes you have good luck and sometimes you have bad luck,” Salazar said. “Fortunately, we had three opportunities we didn't miss and I thank God we won.”
While Bayside was ecstatic with the win, the loss was tough to swallow for Cardozo coach Rich Parascos, who learned 20 minutes before the game two key forwards were ruled academically ineligible.
“In my 14 years of coaching this was the worst display of defense my team has ever played,” he said. “One thing my teams are noted for are being scrappy, hard-nosed and gritty. I tip my hat to Bayside because they outplayed us, they were hungry and did all the little things to win the soccer game.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.