By Joseph Staszewski
Panagiota Tsourapis’ high school soccer career has spanned from novice to go-to scorer at Francis Lewis.
The senior forward was a basketball player when she entered the school as a freshman. She tried soccer only at the behest of her brother.
“Seeing all the seniors playing my freshman year and enjoying the game, it felt like it would be awesome, so I just worked really hard,” Tsourapis said.
Four years later, she is recording a hat trick and dishing out an assist to help the Patriots rout rival host Bayside 5-0 in a PSAL Class A girls’ soccer crossover game Tuesday. The speedy Tsourapis scored off a 20-yard chip into the box from sophomore Jacklyn Lada in the 4th minute for the game’s first goal.
She fought off a defender on either side of her and stuck her right foot out to knock the ball past the keeper to make it 3-0 just before halftime. Her final tally came when Tsourapis, who plays her club ball with the New Hyde Park Kit Kats, tapped in a pass from senior Amberly Cabral in the 54th minute. It was her sixth goal in just four games this season after tallying 19 a year ago.
“She came a really long way,” Quinnipiac-bound senior midfielder Caroline Debonis said. “When she first started, she really didn’t know what she was doing. Seeing her come this far, she is our leading goal scorer, so that’s incredible.”
Lewis has also matured and grown during that time. The Patriots (4-0) were 1-3-2 against Bayside (2-1) in the last six meetings coming into this game and had scored just once the last two times they played their rival on the road.
This Lewis team appears to be one of the deepest and most technically sound of coach Jeovani Parades’ six-year tenure. Debonis is back after taking a year off to focus on her college recruitment. She and sophomore Samantha Margolis each added goals, and sophomore midfielder Sarafina Smith proved to be dangerous. The firepower led to a rare, lopsided affair between the two rivals, which are now in different divisions after a realignment of the leagues.
“I think we are solid all around,” Parades said. “I think every position is covered.”
The Patriots’ defense, led by Alessandra Crocitto, did a excellent job bottling up Bayside striker Alexa Trontz and keeping star midfielder Christina Psomopoulos from getting much going. The Commodores’ best chance came when Marcela Aguirre fed Kayla Triana in the box, but Lewis keeper Anna Trevellini was able to make a save.
Bayside’s play left Coach Maggie Kassimis wanting to see her team be more aggressive in the midfield.
“We gave them too much space, too much time, and we had a game plan and we didn’t follow it,” Kassimis said. “There was too much dribbling in the middle. We basically didn’t give ourselves and opportunity to attack.”
Lewis, which features strong young players supporting its seniors, is hoping this is its chance to make a deep playoff run after being upset in the first round the last two seasons.
“That is the plan and I hope so,” Parades said. “The leadership that we have this year will definitely help us make [it] into semis, finals.”