Madison returns to field, but takes it on chin in loss to Lincoln

Madison returns to field, but takes it on chin in loss to Lincoln
Madison coach Nick Punzone talks to his players after their 6-0 loss to Lincoln.

James Madison was back on the pitch Thursday evening, eight days after its ugly brawl with Franklin D. Roosevelt cost the Knights two games in the standings, one starter for two games and another the rest of his senior year.

The Knights handled themselves well; no cards were given, the postgame handshake went off without a hitch. The final result, however, they would like to be different.

Lincoln struck for three goals in the first 25 minutes en route to a 5-0 shutout of Madison in Coney Island.

This wasn’t the Madison team that started out 5-0-0 in Brooklyn A West, as much of the starting lineup was either absent or in street clothes on the bench.

Last Wednesday, moments after FDR’s contentious and physical 3-2 victory, the two teams exchanged blows in an all-out brawl shortly after the postgame handshake. One Madison player — the player now suspended for the year — got into it with FDR coach Martin Gottesman. Punches were thrown, several Madison players filed police reporters for minor injuries, and Yauhen Malko, another Madison player, said he was chased by three men and was nowhere to be found for 20 minutes following the altercation.

Madison coach Nick Punzone and athletic director Steven Ross declined to comment on the loss, how the brawl has affected the team and school, or the fracas itself. No players were made available to reporters, either. FDR made its return to the field Wednesday and defeated Brooklyn Tech, 5-2, but played most of its starters.

Lincoln coach Chris Vega and his players felt the league’s ruling was strict but fair. Junior Chris Luna, who is close with many players at Madison (5-4-0), did feel for them.

“I feel sorry for Madison; they have a good team,” he said. “It’s something that happens. Sometimes games get physical and players get fired up.”

Punzone was pleased with his players’ effort, at least that’s what he told them in their postgame talk near midfield. He lauded their hustle, singled out senior goalkeeper Mardakhay Shalumov, who made an astounding 18 saves, and spoke about the valuable experience many of them received.

“You did a great job,” he told them.

Roberto Pierre scored twice in the opening half for Lincoln and Shivon Lesse, Jesus Aguilar, Asparukh Zokirov and Oleg Tykhonravov also found the back of the net for the Railsplitters (4-4-0), who have won two straight – a forfeit win against FDR last Friday and this victory over Madison.

“Not the way I want to win a game,” Vega said. “But we’ve lost four games by a goal. We’ve been talking about we needed to get a break. The FDR-Madison brawl was unfortunately that break.”

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