A. Philip Randolph Campus v. Community Health Academy of the Heights
Saturday, September 17th, 2017
Randall’s Island Field 72
CHAH (away): Vincent Rodriguez, Kelvin Sanchez, Bryan Vallejos, Fredi Cortes, Marco Alba, Adonis Cordero, Jeremy Paulino, Jesus Silva Martinez, Kendrick Cardenas, Kevin Garcia Carrasco (c), Sheisyn Almonte
Subs: Luis Francisco Cruz, David Chavez
Coaches: T. Hussein, A. Axelson
The temperature was a beautiful 80 degrees at Randall’s Island Field 72 as the two teams took the field, each playing their first game of the season. CHAH were uniformed in burgundy while Randolph wore a white shirt/navy shorts combo. This game was played on turf at the infamous “glass field”, known for being littered with bits of glass from shattered bottles thrown over the side of the RFK Bridge, which towers above Field 72.
The coaches’ new-look CHAH side featured 6 debutants in the starting lineup, with another two on the bench. Only captain Kevin Garcia and four other players featured for the CHAH team last year. There was a sense of anticipation and new beginnings as the debutants, ranging from grades 9 to 11, prepared to play their first competitive match ever.
The coaches had opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Garcia playing in the #10 position and new striker Sheisyn Almonte up front. Centre-back pairing Bryan Vallejos and Fredi Cortes was a familiar one, having played alongside each other for the past two seasons. New ‘keeper Vincent Rodriguez donned the gloves for the first time, making soccer his second sport after already featuring for the CHAH baseball team, along with Jeremy Paulino, who was playing midfield.
The game began on an unfortunate note for CHAH, however, as a cold start and some hesitation in the box allowed Randolph to take an early lead. CHAH began to grow into the game after that, posing some attacking threat through Almonte and Garcia, while ‘keeper Rodriguez made a number of good saves. But the Phoenix were plagued with a lack of communication at the back and their naiveté showed when the defense failed to play to the whistle, allowing a Randolph player to sneak in and score their team’s second goal.
David Chavez and Luis Francisco Cruz were soon introduced from the bench and Chavez almost made an instant impact, combining with fellow forward Almonte to finish crisply in the face of the onrushing Randolph goalie, only to be denied a debut goal by the referee’s whistle for offside. Soon after, an error by Randolph’s defense allowed Chavez another run through on goal. However, the striker dithered with the ball, allowing a Randolph defender to recover and halt him in his tracks with some extremely flagrant shirt-pulling that went unpunished, and the chance was gone. As CHAH attacked in numbers, a frantic finish to the first half saw two clear handballs in the Randolph box once again ignored by the ref, before Randolph attempted a counter-attack and were halted by defender Vallejos’s block tackle, which was deemed illegal, just before the refs blew for half-time.
CHAH attempted to regroup after the half-time interval, but Randolph’s superior numbers (they had four subs available) began to tell, and tired legs took over. A number of defensive lapses gave Randolph chances to score, some of which they took, and the score soon stood at 4-0. As CHAH countered, a powerful run toward the box by Garcia was stopped when he was barged over off the ball, and CHAH won a free-kick just inside the “D.” Up stepped Cortes, the veteran defender, who blasted a pinpoint free-kick through the Randolph wall, forcing their ‘keeper into a desperate save. It was CHAH’s last meaningful effort as Randolph rounded off the game with two more goals against tired legs. A first loss of the season, but the new players showed plenty of promise, and maybe more importantly, the Phoenix had escaped another game on the “glass field” without injury.