Cougars take firm grip on first place with victory over Brooklyn International

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Walter Medna played a strong game against Brooklyn International on Oct. 2 — including this shot.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

Franklin D. Roosevelt proved it is still the team to beat in the Brooklyn A West Division.

The Cougars used three second-half goals to beat second-place Brooklyn International 3–0 on Oct. 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Public School Athletic League boys’ soccer.

The Cougars beat International 3–1 in both teams’ season opener, but this victory gives Roosevelt an eight-point lead in the standings. Franklin Roosevelt coach Martin Gottesman said his players stepped up to the challenge.

“Today, they knew it was big,” Gottesman said. “It was for first and second and they really stepped it up and played their best soccer all year.”

The Cougars first found the back of the net in the 50th minute. Juan Vargas’s shot in the box hit a Brooklyn International player’s hand, so Vargas was awarded a penalty kick. Vargas capitalized by beating Mohammed Mbaye. The early second-half score was a momentum builder for the Cougars (8–0–0).

“I think that’s what broke it open,” Gottesman said. “We got that first goal, it was a penalty shot, but we will take it any way we can. I think that really built their confidence and let them know that we are the better team.”

The Roosevelt offense added goals in the 75th and 76th minute from Daniel Munoz and Jose Lopez. Vargas saw his team’s chemistry improve in this game.

“I think we played well,” he said. “We communicated more than past games.”

The Cougars dominated the first half, but Mbaye had a response to all of their opportunities. Vargas received a cross from Walter Medina and Mbaye made a save on the point-blank shot in the 20th minute. The senior keeper, who made six saves in the first half, made another big stop in the 34th minute when he stepped in front of Medina’s shot from five feet out.

Mbaye held the game scoreless and kept Brooklyn International (4–2–2) in the game after being out-shot in the first stanza.

Gottesman encouraged his team to keep on playing despite Mbaye turning their best efforts aside.

“I wasn’t frustrated,” the coach said. “At halftime, I told them that was the best half I saw them play all season.”

The defeat has Brooklyn International coach Paul Allen most concerned with making the playoffs now and beating the teams behind them in the standings.

“It’s very important we beat the teams like Madison, Sheepshead Bay, and Lincoln,” he said. “We want to be in the top four. We want to get to the playoffs.”

Roosevelt remains unbeaten and is looking good in the race for the division title. Gottesman still wants his team to take it one game at a time.

“Hopefully we keep on winning,” Vargas said.

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