Brooklyn Boro

Ranked and ready, Terriers soccer chases title three

October 7, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Off to a 7-1-2 start, the nationally ranked St. Francis Terriers will officially begin pursuit of their third consecutive Northeast Conference championship Friday evening at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics

Host Bryant at Brooklyn Bridge Park Friday in Conference Opener

It’s one thing to be thought of as the best team in your entire league, coming off back-to-back Northeast Conference championships for the first time in the history of the program, and heavily favored to win a third in a row.

But being ranked among the Top 25 teams in the nation is something the soccer squad at Remsen Street’s St. Francis College is going to have to get used to.

“It’s a great feeling and it’s nice to get the recognition from the coaches,” admitted SFC Brooklyn head coach Tom Giovatto after the Terriers were ranked 22nd overall in the latest National Soccer Coaches of America Top 25 Coaches Poll last week.

“It’s great for the kids and they are very excited about it,” added Giovatto, whose squad buzzed through its non-conference schedule with a gaudy 7-1-2 slate, marred only by last Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to NJIT in Newark, N.J. “The whole school, students, faculty and staff [being ranked] is something that we share together. The guys are playing great, you can just see from the numbers. It’s a very close group and we have a family atmosphere, which is what makes it more enjoyable.”

Having won each of their back-to-back NEC titles via “Golden Goals” in overtime from former team captain Andy Cormack, the Terriers returned to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons after missing out on competing against the nation’s best for 15 years.

But no one could have predicted that the diminutive Downtown school would launch itself into the national title conversation during the non-conference portion of its schedule, opening the campaign with a nine-match unbeaten streak before the tough defeat to the Highlanders (3-5-2).

SFC actually fought back from an early 3-0 deficit by scoring twice in the second half, thanks to tallies from senior John Makaya and sophomore Federico Curbelo.

But NJIT goaltender Marco Luna stood tall in the net during the Terriers’ desperate rush to even the match, finishing with nine saves after SFC outshot the Highlanders, 20-5.

Fortunately for the Terriers, the taste of defeat isn’t likely to linger long as SFC prepares to host Bryant on Friday at Brooklyn Bridge Park in its NEC opener.

“Being in the Top 25 is great for us,” senior midfielder Harry Odell said. It’s something we have been working for since the start of the season. It’s not our focus right now and we will continue to take each game as they come. We need to continue what we have been doing. Defense comes first and we’ll try to keep on getting better each game”

Jack Binks, the team’s two-time championship winning senior goalie, stopped two shots in Saturday’s loss, but entered the contest as the nation’s top netminder, pacing the country with a .104 goals-against average, a .962 save percentage and an astonishing .89 shutout percentage.

Binks, a native of Darlington, England, knows his success in net has just as much to do with the players in front of him as it does his own shot-stopping acumen.

“It’s an honor but I can’t really take all the credit myself,” Binks humbly noted.  “If you look at the stats, I’ve only had 20 shots on me. I would like to say that is because of how organized the back four is.  The four in front of me and the midfield are doing a great job of shutting our opponents down.”

The Terriers boast a perfect 5-0 mark at home this season entering the conference opener against Bryant, the team they blanked, 2-0, last November in the semifinals of the NEC Championships.

Though they’ve become bigger on the national landscape than any of their current NEC peers, the Terriers know full well that they are unlikely to be invited to the NCAAs without a third consecutive NEC title.

“The recognition [of being in the Top 25] is nice, but it’s not something that we needed,” said senior co-captain Cyril Coisne, who scored the double-overtime game-winner in a 1-0 triumph over Albany at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sept. 26.

”Our goal is to win another [NEC] championship. It is great for us, but we need to focus [on the conference].”

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The LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer squad went 3-5-2 during its non-conference slate, including a 1-0 triumph over NJIT at LIU Field last Wednesday.

Redshirt freshman Romario Guscott delivered the contest’s lone goal in the 66th minute off a feed from sophomore Naeem Charles, helping the Blackbirds improve to 1-1-2 in their last four matches entering Friday’s NEC opener at Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J.

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In other local sports news, the Third Annual Brooklyn Open Golf Championship will tee off Friday morning at the Marine Park Golf Course.

Xander McDonald Smith, the former No. 1 ranked player from Penn State and an NYC Amateur champion, will be among a field of 116 golfers at the event, which consists of one professional field and five amateur divisions.

The winners will receive an official Brooklyn Borough President Trophy from BP Eric Adams.

The one-day tournament tees off at 8:30 a.m.