UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Long Island Rough Riders women scored early and often as they clinched a USL W League wildcard playoff berth with a 7-0 triumph over the Westchester Flames in their regular season finale at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sunday.
Long Island finished with an 8-2-2 record and 26 points in the Metropolitan Division as the Rough Riders await their playoff opponents.
Goalkeeper Stephanie Sparkowski and Amanda Brennan backstopped the Rough Riders to their fifth consecutive shutout in which they have recorded a 4-0-1 mark and outscored their opponents, 35-0.
First-half substitute Furtuna Velaj, team captain Kimberly Marra and Nicole Bermudez, who has tallied a team-high 10 goals, each bagged a brace and Emily Rose added one goal for the hosts as Westchester fell to 2-10-0.
The Rough Riders dominated the encounter from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, combining quick passes and skilled play.
It didn’t take long for LI to score as Bermudez buried in a right-wing cross from team captain Kimberly Marra to grab a 1-0 lead and her ninth goal of the season in the third minute.
Barely a minute later, Rose doubled the lead. Jordan Littleboy started the sequence by intercepting a pass at midfield before feeding Rose. Rose slipped between two defenders and scored from the middle of the box for her second goal of the campaign.
Marra got into the act in the 18th minute as she put in a left-wing feed for a three-goal edge.
Velaj, who replaced the injured Salma Tarik in the 10th minute, got on the scoresheet in the 35th minute as she converted a penalty kick for a 4-0 advantage. She drilled a shot that the goalkeeper got a hand on while diving to her left, but the ball went into the net.
Velaj struck again in the 42nd minute. This time Amanda Buck sent in a right-wing cross that the goalkeeper flicked off the crossbar. Velaj then cleaned up the rebound for a 5-0 advantage with her ninth goal.
Marra connected for her second goal as she latched onto a long pass and rounded the keeper for a six-goal margin in the 45th minute. She has five goals this year.
Bermudez closed out the scoring in the 88th minute.
The Rough Riders and their official healthcare provider, Stony Brook Orthopaedic Associates (SBOA), a practice of Stony Brook Medicine, co-hosted “SBOA Health Care Appreciation Night.” They provided complimentary ticket entry for all healthcare workers to the team’s doubleheader. The Rough Riders men played in the nightcap.