By Stephen Zitolo
Grover Cleveland put an end to Robert F. Kennedy’s Cinderella playoff run by finishing off an undefeated championship season of its own.
Second-seeded Grover Cleveland beat No. 16 Robert F. Kennedy 4-3 in penalty kicks to win the PSAL Class B boys’ soccer title Sunday on Randall’s Island. The teams played to a 1-1 through two overtimes.
The game came down to one shot with the penalty shoot-out tied 3-3.
Grover Cleveland senior Diego Rivera stepped up with the city championship on the line and found the back of the net to give the Tigers the crown.
“This is incredible,” Rivera said. “This is great to share this moment with everyone. I knew this was coming from the beginning. We didn’t give up until the very last play and it paid off.”
Even with the heartbreaking loss, RFK (13-5) has a bright future ahead with a roster of 13 underclassman.
“We joke at RFK that we’re the little school that could,” RFK coach Ed Ryder said. “When you look at the age of our roster, our kids will know better going forward that this is what is supposed to happen every season. We were just saying that if we want that feeling that the other team has dancing around, you have to keep working at it.”
In a physical game throughout, Grover Cleveland (17-0) broke the scoreless tie in the 56th minute when senior Miguel Diaz Rosales sent a booming, curving ball on a corner kick for a 1-0 lead.
RFK tied it four minutes later when Giuseppe Rullo connected on a free kick from the top of the box.
“Today was an absolute, unbelievable day for these boys,” Grover Cleveland Coach Christopher Sullivan said. “We were a team that never gave up. Today was a culmination of a whole season of never giving up.”
The two goals that keyed Cleveland to the win were both scored by seniors — Diaz Rosales in regulation and Reyes in the shootout.
ldo Tinoco, Pratik Gurung and Costinel Oaie also scored in the shootout for Grover Cleveland.
“My senior class is an unbelievable group of kids,” Sullivan said. “The seniors that led this team showed values of discipline, commitment, and dedication. They did what they had to do to be victorious.”