By Joseph Staszewski
Jason Elliot spent most of the second half on the sidelines because of serious cramping in his legs. The Benjamin Cardozo defender let out loud screams of pain before and after his teammates carried him off the field. He said his legs still hurt while playing the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
Elliot and his teammates continued to push through and earned the chance to let out screams of joy. He found enough energy to leap up from behind a wall of Francis Lewis defenders to head a Brandon Elliot free kick for the game-winning goal in Cardozo’s come-from-behind 2-1 double overtime win over visiting Francis Lewis Sept. 25 in PSAL Queens A East boys’ soccer. The victory kept the Judges in first place.
“We fight,” Jason Elliot said. “We don’t give up.”
Elliot’s header went down to turf near the far post and off the cleat of Francis Lewis’ Julian Cifuntes in the 97th minute. Patriots backup keeper John Saquipulla made a diving save, but the referee ruled he was past the goal line.
“I saw it coming from far and just had to give myself the best opportunity to score,” Jason Elliot said.
He is an unlikely hero as a defender. Elliott was moved to the front for the corner kick with both teams nearing a tie. He picked a good time for his first goal of the season.
“He plays in the back,” senior Peter Koumas said. “He doesn’t really score any goals.”
It was Koumas who began the rally after Lewis got on the board first. Patriots senior Dorie James ran under a 35-yard free kick from Nikolas Touros and headed it home to make it 1-0 in the 26th minute. Koumas got Cardozo (4-1-0) even when he scored off a pass from Rony Zino to tie the score at 1-1 in the 47th minute.
“Pete took us off the mat when we needed a goal and he got the guys righted,” Judges Coach Richie Parascos said.
He believes the team is beginning to find its chemistry after a rocky start. Disciplinary issues kept two starters out of a season opening loss to Forest Hills. Cardozo then rattled off four straight wins, including this one.
“We are just trying to get first place and put a banner up in our gym,” Koumas said.
A young Francis Lewis (3-2-0) team is still trying to find that cohesion, according to Coach Roger Sarmuksinis. He has 32 kids on the roster, playing four new defenders. Three new starters played their first game of the season against Cardozo, including promising sophomore midfielder Robert Dulanto.
“This is a much different team from what we’ve had in the past,” Sarmuksinis said.
Lewis dominated play in the first half as the more aggressive team. They, however, did not capitalize enough on the scoring chances they created. Headers on set pieces went unfinished and Cardozo keeper Daniel Hoyte positioned himself well all afternoon.
“We got unlucky and the goalie made some phenomenal saves,” Sarmuksinis said. “There were a bunch of near-misses there.”