Benjamin Cardozo senior Jason Elliott let out screams in pain and grabbed his leg as he wailed on the ground during the second half of boys soccer game versus Francis Lewis Patriots on September 25.
Elliott’s leg had cramped up and the pain seemed unbearable as Cardozo coach Richard Parascos ran to his side to help.
The game was halted for a few minutes and a handful of teammates picked Elliot up and took him off the field as if he were being saved from a burning building.
“I wasn’t hydrated,” he said.
Not only was he thirsty for water; Elliott was hungry for a win. After a break on the sidelines, some stretching, water and a massage, Elliott recovered and scored the golden goal, a header in the 87th minute, to give the Judges a 2-1 win over Francis Lewis in PSAL Queens Division A soccer.
“I saw it coming from far and I just try to make sure to get myself the best opportunity to score it,” Elliot said about the goal. Through the goal his cramped leg was still hurting, but Elliot said, “We’re resilient. We fight. We don’t give up.”
And that’s the way they played all game. Cardozo (4-1) was backed into a corner after allowing an early goal in the first half.
In the 26th minute Francis Lewis (3-2) took a 1-0 lead after forward Dorie James headed the ball in the goal, following a throw-in from senior Nikolas Touros.
But Cardozo wasn’t going to back down. With just seven minutes into the second half the Judges found the answer. They flooded the box on a throw-in and senior Panayiotis Koumas headed the ball in for the equalizer.
“In the first half we really didn’t step strong to the ball,” Parascos said. “That was the big difference in the game. I think we possessed the ball better in the second half.”
From then it was a back and forth of teams exchanging off target, but powerful shots and near corner kicks that were headers away from finding the back of the net. The atmosphere between these eternal Queens rivals was reminiscent of a playoff match in November, despite being just the fifth league game of the season.
And then the shenanigans ensued.
At one point Cardozo had an extra player on the field. It may have been an honest mistake, but Francis Lewis was taking a free kick and the play should have resulted in a yellow card. However, the referees blew the call and Cardozo got off lucky.
With just a few minutes left in regulation, when it was Cardozo’s turn for a free kick, Patriots coach Roger Sarmuksnis purposely told two extra players to get on the field to defend the goal, leading to a successful stop, but a yellow card charge.
“This is playoff soccer right here,” Sarmuksnis said. “I’m just laughing, because that normally happens at the end of the season.”
The game flowed into extra time until Elliott’s goal brought it to an end. With the win Cardozo now heads to top of the standings.
QUEENS A EAST SOCCER STANDINGS – 9(26)13
Benjamin Cardozo 4-1-0
Francis Lewis 3-2-0
Forest Hills 2-1-2
John Bowne 1-4-0
Martin Van Buren 0-5-0