NEW BRITAIN – With his left foot on a free kick, Kevin Correa hooked the ball through the tightest of spots and into the net. With his right foot on the break, Correa blasted another shot past Central Connecticut goalie Josef Abele.
Correa scored twice, making two pretty difficult plays look pretty easy, to give fourth-seeded St. Francis-Brooklyn a 2-0 victory over top-seeded Central Connecticut in a Northeast Conference semifinal Friday at CCSU Soccer Field.
"The difference,” Central senior Eddy Bogle said, “was the guy on the other team put away his goals."
It was more complex than that. Central (9-9-1) was without its two captains. Senior defenseman Jose Gamboa and junior midfielder Stephen Walmsley both sustained concussions in the regular season finale against Bryant and were forced to miss the game. The Blue Devils knew Gamboa would be out but hoped Walmsley would be cleared. He was dizzy in warmups and, therefore, unavailable.
Central hadn’t lost a conference game until the regular season finale to Bryant and finished atop the NEC standings for the second time in three years. With that came the right to host the conference tournament. The championship game is Sunday, with St. Francis facing either No. 3 Bryant or No. 2 St. Francis (Pa.).
We’re proud of the season we had. We thought this would be a two-year building process, losing seven starters from last year," coach Shaun Green said. "We thought we would [maybe] get in the playoffs this year. Winning it outright, I think we really excelled. It was great for the kids. We did very well. I felt we could have done well this weekend. Unfortunately, New York is a very persistent team and they have some very good players."
Correa, a sophomore from Flushing, N.Y., is one of the conference’s best. In the 61st minute, he took a free kick from just outside the box and a sharp angle on the right. He hooked it around a group of Hartford defenders and just inside the near post.
While that goal was pure precision, Correa’s goal in the in the 73rd minute was as much about power, speed and smarts. He took a lead pass from Gabriel Bagot on the right and streaked toward the goal. Ordinarily, he would cut toward the middle. This time, he shot with his right foot without making much of a move.
"Everybody knows on the lead, I’m a lefty," Correa said. "I usually try to cut in and try to place it with my left. But I saw the keeper trying to cheat a little and I said, Why not try it with the right?"
Central was thoroughly outplayed in the first half but it was scoreless at halftime. The Blue Devils were the better team for the first 15 minutes of the second half.
"We responded the way we wanted to and I felt we put them on their heels," Green said. "But, a good effort by Correa. I felt we left it a little too open on the left side [on the free kick]. And just a phenomenal finish on his second one. And that was it.
"I’m proud of our accomplishments this year. Everyone in the conference would love to be regular season champs and host the tournament, for sure. We accomplished that and we’ll use that to move forward. We’ve got some great young players coming back."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun