By Dylan Butler
After last year’s disappointing season, Brooklyn Knights coach Dan Fisher made a wish list of players to improve the Premier Development League team and brought it to college soccer games during the fall.
Chief among his concerns was bolstering his soccer team’s defense. And although it was just one game and it was against one of the weaker teams in the league, the Knights’ 4-2 win over the Jersey Shore Boca Sunday afternoon at the Metropolitan Oval was an early sign that Fisher’s shopping spree may have paid off.
The Knights newcomers made an immediate difference against Jersey Shore, a first-year provisional side. Midfielders Chris Corcoran and Chris Wingert, two of Fisher’s biggest acquisitions and both starters at St. John’s, had two assists apiece.
They picked apart Jersey Shore’s midfield, and, along with fellow midfielders Joe Afful and Whitestone’s Alessandro Acquista — teammates at St. Francis College — constantly played balls over the top of Boca’s defense to speedy forwards Andre Schmid and Rinaldo Chambers.
Schmid put the Knights ahead 2-0 by scoring his two goals in the opening 28 minutes, and Chambers added a pair of tap-ins in the second half, the final coming in the last minute of regulation.
Central defenders Gary Sullivan, a standout at Adelphi who was ferocious in the air, and former Flushing star Pablo Orantes, were steadying influences in front of returning keeper Billy Gaudette.
“We’re lucky to have some very key signings,” Fisher said. “They’re all key pick-ups, all experienced players from good programs, and we’re happy they chose us.”
After Schmid beat Jersey Shore keeper George Vasilakis on a breakaway in the fourth minute, he again broke in on the keeper three minutes later. But he took one touch too many and Vasilakis came off his line to dive on the ball.
In the 13th minute, Wingert, a starter on the U.S. Under-23 national team, freed Chambers, but his shot from 14 yards out sailed wide of the right post. A minute later Wingert was open from the top of the shot, but his low shot also went wide.
Despite the early dominance — the Knights outshot Jersey Shore 11-5 in the first half — Brooklyn saw its two-goal lead shaved in half in the 32nd minute when Ed Decker’s cross into the box was headed by Mike Hayes over Gaudette, who was late off his line, and into the net.
“They hung in well,” Fisher said of Jersey Shore. “Every time you miss chances to put a team away, the other team always gains confidence.”
The Knights will certainly face a tougher test Sunday at the Metropolitan Oval when they take on the Rhode Island Stingrays (1-0) in a U.S. Open Cup qualifying match at 5 p.m.
New York Freedoms game postponed. The New York Freedoms Pro-Select League game Saturday night against the New Jersey Stallions has been delayed because a home field was unavailable. Extra construction sidelined Belson Stadium and DaSilva Field was not usable because its turf had been damaged.
New York (1-1) plays a U.S. Open Cup qualifier at Wilmington Friday night and then plays at Carolina Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.