2007-11-09 / Sports

Dolphins Leap Hurdle To Advance To PSAL Soccer Semifinals

By Elio Velez

The boys' soccer players at Beach Channel have gotten accustomed to experiencing heartbreak.

Though the Dolphins made the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006, they've been bounced and eliminated in heartbreaking overtime losses that would have knocked the confidence out of any team.

But Dolphins coach Dominic Stanco feels confident that this team may end the season celebrating a championship.

They've bounced back strongly to make the playoffs, and one player in particular, Marlon Velasquez, has the ability to change the outcome of a game with a flash of brilliance.

Last Tuesday, the senior forward dashed his way past a host of Eleanor Roosevelt defenders for two goals and an assist, as Beach Channel advanced for the first time to the PSAL 'B" playoff semifinals with a 3-1 victory at Grady High School in Brooklyn.

"I went up to him four years ago and said when he was scoring goals then and told him I can see this team becoming a city champion," Stanco said of Velasquez, who led the team in goals this season.

"Four years later, we're in the final four and we still have some unfinished business to go." Now the Dolphins are only two games away from making school history.

Their semifinal matchup will take place at presstime at Flushing Meadows Park against Taft High School, who defeated New Utrecht 3-1, last Tuesday.

If they can defeat Taft, Beach Channel will advance to the PSAL 'B' Championship at Randalls Island on Sunday at 10 a.m.

Either they will face John Adams for the fourth time this season or the Dolphins will take on Jamaica.

Against the Manhattan B1 champions, the Dolphins controlled the first half, and had a 1-0 lead on a Velasquez' goal in the first half.

But a rare defensive mixup cost them their lead. The miscue occurred when the ball wasn't cleared from deep within Beach Channel's end of the field.

Eleanor Roosevelt forward Brian Wright quickly right-footed the ball, then their leading scorer coolly slotted it into the net in the 16th minute of the second half, to tie the game at 1-1

But less than two minutes later, Velasquez gave the Dolphins room to breathe. Moved from center midfield to forward, the senior pounced on a loose ball. He juked past two Roosevelt defenders and fired a laser shot 10 yards away, past diving goalkeeper Allen Feldman, to make it 2-1.

"I was just thinking of going hard and trying to score," Velasquez said. everything. We're not done yet."

The Dolphins seemed to relax as a collective unit after the goal. They ended matters when Felix Luna dashed to the Roosevelt goal from midfield, fended off a Roosevelt defender, and left-footed his fourth overall goal of the playoffs, for a commanding 3-1 advantage.

In the four years that Stanco has been a part of the program, first as an assistant and then as head coach, he's watched the Dolphins complete a meteoric rise to become perennial PSAL 'B' championship contenders.

But Stanco and his team have one goal. They don't want to finish as a runner-up.

The Dolphins want the brass ring.

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