posted 2011-11-18 15:18:31

Snowstorm Dooms Hunter Soccer In Playoffs

Weather and technicalities combine to end chances of Hawks repeat

Ben Wynns

Staff Writer

The Hunter College men’s soccer team saw their season come to an end under unfortunate circumstances last week. After taking a 1-0 lead into halftime of the CUNYAC semifinal game against Lehman on October 29 on Staten Island, the game was called off due to the surprising snowstorm that hit the city that day.

After the game was rescheduled, the score was erased and the game started over from the first minute on November 3. In the replay, Hunter fell in a tight contest to Lehman, 0-2.

After CUNYAC consulted with the schools and decided to proceed with semifinal play on Staten Island despite the weather, Hunter jumped out to an early lead over number one seed Lehman courtesy of freshman Song Yong Kim. However, when the snow continued to fall and accumulate, CUNYAC officials stepped in and called off the remainder of the game while the teams huddled at halftime.

Coach Jose Cedeno questioned the decision made by administrators. “I thought thatthe field was playable for the second half but it wasn't our call. The refereesmade a decision and we had to respect it.”

However, the sense of injustice for the Hawks only grew as the week went on. Both teams were forced to wait until Tuesday for CUNYAC to determine the date of the replay, which was decided to be the very next day, November 3, at the Brooklyn Aviation Sports Center.

“It was disappointing to have to waitfour days to replay a game, especially when we had a 1-0 lead and the momentum inour favor,” Coach Cedeno added before the most glaring controversy of the tie occurred.

The replay game in Brooklyn was to be started over completely with the score reset at 0-0, canceling out the good start Hunter had made on Staten Island. When reached for comment, CUNYAC Executive Director Zak Ivkovic stated that this followed NCAA procedure.

“For the soccer game to be official, 70 minutes needed to be played,” he explained. He also stated that the initial decision to call off the game on Staten Island was the decision of the game’s referee, not CUNYAC.

Hawks players were disappointed by the ruling, with captain Zade Haobsh stating that while it may have been tough to to continue in the cold on Saturday, he didn’t agree with the rule that discounts an entire half of soccer.

Once the game was finally restarted, it did not turn out to be Hunter’s day. Lehman jumped out to a 2-0 lead within the first 32 minutes. Hunter fought back, forcing numerous key saves out of Lehman goalkeeper Marco Coto-Batres. But by the time the final whistle went, the Hawks were unable to pierce the Lehman defense and saw their hopes of a repeat as CUNYAC Champions come to a sour end.

In his closing thoughts on the season, Coach Cedeno stated that he had been pleased with the emergence of various underclassmen on the roster, giving the team a youthful foundation that can make a huge impact for coming years. Tied for the team’s scoring lead included freshmen Diego Mercado and Erick Estrada, while other rookies such as Rocky Marin and Michael Zebzda saw substantial playing time throughout the season. In addition, the team will see several key veterans returning such as goalkeeper Haobsh and defensive stalwarts Estrada, Adamu Hamza, and John Theotakis.

Haobsh stated the team is hungry for next season following the heartbreaking end to 2011. “I have no doubt the returning players will be working hard in the offseason,” he said.

The Hunter Hawks men’s soccer team finished the season with an overall record of five wins, nine losses, and four ties (while compiling a 3-2-3 record in CUNY play) and advanced to the semifinal round of the CUNYAC playoff tournament.