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By Five Boro Sports
The last time Bishop Ford and McClancy met on the soccer field, the match ended in controversy, a concussion was suffered by Crusaders’ keeper Peter Pipia, the Falcons exchanged taunts with the home fans and McClancy athletic director Gerry O’Riordan and coach Adrian Caballero were ejected.
It ignited plenty of tough talk between both teams leading up to the latest showdown.
“It got us hyped up and gave us a boost of energy,” McClancy’s center midfielder Alexis Escobar said. “We had to win this game.”
This one, at Aviator Field, won by the Crusaders, 5-1, had plenty of fireworks, too – red cards were handed out to Ford’s Peter Panousopoulos and James Calcedo and six yellow cards were distributed, five to the feisty Falcons (8-3-1 CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens ‘B’), who attempted to sneak in an extra man twice.
The difference, Caballero said, was that referee Hakan Baydere made a point of not toleration any extra curricular activities by punishing any and all illegal acts.
“He wasn’t afraid to pull out his cards early,” Caballero said.
Ford coach Barney Cassidy, meanwhile, downplayed the possibility of a repeat. “I didn’t expect that,” he said. “We’ve played some good games (against them) on the field.”
Escobar made the loudest statement of the afternoon with his right foot, scoring two goals and setting up a third in the Crusaders’ impressive victory, a win that has them all alone atop Brooklyn/Queens ‘B’ with one game remaining, at home against St. John’s Prep on Friday. It also puts aside the nastiness of the previous game among the two division powers.
“I’m glad,” said Caballero, the second-year coach. “The school should be represented with class. I wanted to make sure my team concentrated on the game and nothing else.”
There was plenty of chippy play over the first 40 minutes. As was the case in the first game on Oct. 10, Ford went after Pipia, who sustained a concussion and had two stitches into his lips after colliding with Panousopoulos and falling onto his head. On Wednesday, the first goal scored by the Falcons in the eighth minute came after Pipia misplayed a long shot by Calcedo and was beaten to the loose ball by Panousopoulos.
During the week Caballero made a point to his players to remain composed. When a few fans blurted out insulting remarks, Caballero silenced them. Pipia held strong, making several key saves despite being knocked down or shoved on occasion, until his teammates found their rhythm.
“Once or twice it happens,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Maybe some of them were tough plays.”
Escobar’s through ball to Steven Jimenez started the turnaround, as he chipped it past keeper Luis Castillo in the 30th minute. Only a minute later, Panousopoulos was sent off for taking a swing at fullback Nick Devito. It certainly changed the complexion of the game – Ford was not only playing with a man down, but was without Panousopoulos, one of its talented strikers.
“I didn’t see it,” Cassidy, the sixth-year coach, said, “so I can’t say I questioned it.”
McClancy (8-2-0) built on its momentum when Heiner Greenberg scored on a fantastic individual play, dribbling around Calcedo and TJ Ecock before ripping home a shot from 20 yards out through the stiff wind.
Twice before halftime, Ford attempted to sneak an 11th man on; illegally trying to substitute for Panousopoulos. Cassidy was handed a yellow card for the infraction.
“It speaks for itself,” Caballero said. “That’s my comment.”
After halftime, the Crusaders poured it on. Escobar scored in the 49th minute, dribbling through the Falcons’ defense, pushing the lead to two. When Calcedo was sent off for a second bookable offense, Ford was down to nine men and with no recipe for success. Escobar scored his second goal in the 68th minute , rifling a shot inside the far post from the seat of his pants. Julian Ospina added another on a header six minutes from full time.
“This is a feeling I never had before,” Escobar said. “I can’t explain how happy I am.”
His teammates are just as excited to have him around. Last year Escobar tore the ACL, cracked his femur bone and fractured his meniscus in his right knee. The Crusaders never got on track, losing in the quarterfinals.
“I wanted to put my jersey on so bad,” he said. “It was killing me, especially when they were down.”
Escobar saved his finest performance yet for the biggest game of the season, creating opportunities for others and finishing off plays himself.
“He’s one of our cornerstones,” Caballero said “He’s a pillar of this team. He’s a great kid. He’s educated, smart, well-behaved. Everything is ‘yes coach, no coach.’”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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