Blue Heaven – QNS.com

Blue Heaven

With a slight turn to her right and quick-as-a-whip boot, Despina Psomopoulos sent her teammates into a frenzy and added to an already impressive resume.
It was just a few feet of space, barely any room for most players to execute such a maneuver. Used to double- and triple-teams, it was more than enough daylight for Psomopoulos to propel fifth-seeded Bayside into the PSAL Class A semifinals for the third consecutive season with a golden goal nine minutes into the first overtime of their 3-2 victory over No. 4 Tottenville.
From the left flank 15 yards out, she ripped the high blast just underneath the crossbar to push the Commodores past the 2006 champions to cap a remarkable comeback from a two-goal halftime deficit.
“My heart,” said junior midfielder Anca Dogarescu, who set up Psomopoulos’s game-winner, “is still beating 200-miles-an-hour.”
Zoe Margulies and Dogarescu scored in regulation one minute apart to force overtime. Psomopoulos, Queens A-V’s leading scorer with 18 regular season goals, took care of the Pirates from there with her well-timed strike.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the dynamic junior up to that point. In the third minute of the second half, she was dragged down from behind on a breakaway but no call was made. On her next touch, Psomopoulos narrowly missed slicing Bayside’s deficit in half, leaving a long shot wide left. When the decisive opportunity presented itself, however, she came through.
“That’s why she is who she is - she shines in the right moment,” Bayside Coach Joe Corrado said.
Added Dogarescu: “She finished it like she always does.”
Her teammates’ resiliency ultimately made such a heroic moment possible. Margulies finished her own breakaway in the 50th minute and Dogarescu picked up the loose change in front just thereafter, depositing the shot into the far left hand corner. They were just two pieces of the puzzle.
Senior sweeper Seena Sleem, at one time in her career one of Bayside’s top forwards, enabled the Commodores to hold the high-powered Pirates scoreless over the final 67 minutes. Keeper Nicole Carroll made several clutch saves, three of them in overtime. Center midfielder Chelsea Cabarcas was everywhere, starting the attack and nullifying Tottenville chances.
“I’ve said this about this particular team in general before - it seems like they step up at the right moments,” Corrado said. “Hopefully they keep stepping up.”
At halftime, many of seniors talked about making sure their final high school soccer had yet to be played. Several of the girls, Margulies said, were engaged in a series of “heart-to-heart” exchanges, imploring one another to keep fighting. By the time the half began, the Commodores were focused, ready to extend their season.
“We kept it together as a team, we kept everything positive,” Psomopoulos said. “We didn’t put our heads down. We came out and took our chances.”
Now the Commodores get their shot at redemption when they meet top-seeded McKee/Staten Island Tech, the defending city champions who beat them each of the last two years, including last June’s final, at Tottenville on Thursday.
“I can’t wait,” Corrado said. “I love the challenge and I know all of my girls want the challenge.”
“I’m looking forward to revenge,” Dogarescu said.

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