By Anthony Parelli
The clock was ticking down as Bayside’s Madeline Zambri got her foot on the ball during a scramble in the box and sent it toward the net. She immediately panicked and felt it was going wide.
“I thought I missed,” Zambri said. “I saw a white jersey and just saw the goal in front. I swore I missed it.”
It couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Instead, the freshman’s shot found the back of the net with just 15 seconds left in the contest to give unbeaten Bayside a thrilling 1-0 win over host and rival Cardozo in PSAL Queens A-V girls’ soccer last Thursday. It was the second heart-breaking loss it handed the Judges this season after the Commodores won the first meeting 2-1 in overtime.
“I thought it was a very high level high school game,” Cardozo Coach Tim Demirayak said. “Our team played very well. Bayside is one of the top teams in the city and we competed evenly with them for almost the entire match.”
The defenses kept scoring to a minimum. Throughout the first half, Cardozo put offensive pressure on Bayside, registering eight straight minutes in opposition territory, but the Commodores’ defense held strong.
“I’m a firm believer that offense scores all the points, but defense wins championships,” Bayside Coach Maggie Kassimis said. “I think we did a great job to hold them off in some shaky moments.”
Bayside appeared to be a different team in the second half, going on the offensive and keeping pressure on the Judges. It ultimately resulted in the late goal-scoring opportunity.
“I lit a fire underneath them,” Kassimis said of her halftime speech to her team that had grown confident over the season. “I think that they played so well this year that sometimes winning can get the best of you.”
For Cardozo the play of sweeper Kelly Bouzi was critical to keeping Bayside off the board for the majority of the game.
“Kelly Bouzi is one of the best sweepers in the city,” Demirayak said. “She’s been a starter for four years and she holds down the fort for us.”
Cardozo goalie Rebecca Fakas also made three spectacular saves as time ran down late in the game, but Zambri’s shot snuck by her. It left the Judges shocked and dejected and Bayside elated as their undefeated season rolls on.
“I told them that Cardozo is a great team and this is their house and they’re not going to give it to you,” Kassimis said. “You have to go earn it.”