It didn’t take long for Cardozo goalie Christopher Yeh to shake off the rust after missing a week of lacrosse action.
Yeh suffered a freak accident in the school hallways in which he fell to the floor and the injury requires stiches to his eyebrow. The starting goalie returned to the field and played well in a six-goal loss to Tottenville Wednesday.
The rust was finally shaken off Friday night as Cardozo defeated rival Midwood, 4-2, under the lights at Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn.
The starting goalie had to react fast in a tight defensive game early in the fourth quarter. Yeh turned away the second point-blank range shot from Hornets midfielder Daniel Marraquin and it led to a transition goal by midfielder Kevin Chen just seconds later.
“It’s muscle memory from working all offseason, to working every practice,” Yeh said. “You got to work hard, I’ve been putting in the work and it’s paying off.”
It was an important win for Cardozo (8-3), which locked up third place and a first-round home game when the playoffs begin May 15.
The Judges celebrated their second win over Midwood this season, but Chen sees it as more than a huge confidence boost.
“It means a lot, they are a rivalry to our team,” Chen said. “There is so much tension in this game that we just want it. This is the most important game in our season against Midwood. It’s the atmosphere, you come here and see the lights shining down, it gets the adrenalin running.”
Cardozo had enough offense to get out to a 3-1 lead at halftime. Bektosh Ayoob scored his team-leading 36th goal in the first quarter to make it a 1-0 lead. Chen scored the first of his two goals with 7:33 left in the second before Nicholas Dopyera responded for Midwood to cut the lead to 2-1.
After Justin Dong scored the third Cardozo goal at 5:28 of the second quarter, the game would turn into a tight defensive struggle.
Midwood (6-5) looked frustrated it couldn’t get things going offensively. But when the Hornets finally got aggressive in the final quarter, Yeh stood firm amongst the Midwood pressure.
When Yeh made a stick save on Marraquin’s second shot attempt in a matter of seconds, the momentum quickly shifted in Cardozo’s favor.
“He’s been clutch for us,” Cardozo coach Chris Milani said. “The most important thing was keeping his composure. He sees a tons of shots and he’s ready for things like that. Other goalies may let the anxiety build up, but he’s been doing this for a while so he’s used to it.”
Ayoob took a loose ball and ran down the middle of the field where he found a wide-open Chen just 10 yards away from the goal. The junior whipped his shot past Midwood goalie Billy Ardamis to put Cardozo up 4-1 with 9:22 to go.
Midwood couldn’t find answers for much of the night, even after Paul Dopyera cut the Judges lead to 4-2 with 5:36 remaining. It’s been a grueling week, according to coach Andrew Shipman as his young team played a pair of overtime games this week, rallying to beat Columbus before falling to New Dorp Wednesday.
“We’re a much better team than we showed today,” Shipman said. “We are coming off two overtime games. We was sloppy with the ball, we threw it away and had opportunity after opportunity. We had one man up, we had a two man non-releasable and we couldn’t capitalize on that.”
Yeh said the win gives the Judges confidence as they head toward the postseason.
“We didn’t play well against Tottenville,” Yeh said. “Today we played amazing.”