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College Roundup: St. Francis soccer nails down first win

St. Francis Brooklyn Gets Off Schneid with 3-0 Rout of Howard

September 18, 2014 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Freshman Vincent Bezecourt’s first career goal sparked St. Francis Brooklyn to its first win of the year Tuesday night at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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The afterglow of capturing their first conference championship in 15 years had dimmed considerably for the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer squad following an 0-4-1 start to their ongoing follow-up campaign.

In fact, the pressure was building on coach Tom Giovatto’s unit as it prepared to host Howard on Tuesday night at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

But the Terriers finally got off the schneid, and did so in impressive fashion, shutting out the visiting Howard University Bison, 3-0, behind the strong goaltending of junior Jack Binks and goals by freshman Vincent Bezecourt, junior John Makaya and sophomore Paul Galimi.

Coming off a double-overtime 2-2 deadlock with Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., on Saturday, the winless Terriers were eager to build on their first non-losing result of the new campaign.

“We definitely felt the pressure,” Giovatto told the Eagle on Thursday morning from his offices at the Remsen Street school.

“We have a lot of new guys this year, but we thought we played better against Lafayette,” he added. “We have a lot of work to do but we’re on the right track. A lot of pressure was lifted on Tuesday night.”

Bezecourt’s first career goal relieved a considerable amount of it in the eighth minute of play as he made good on a rebound off a shot by sophomore Nyle Patel and sent it past Howard netminder Eric Hamilton for a quick 1-0 advantage.

Binks, who backstopped SFC to its first Northeast Conference crown since 1998 last November, made sure that early tally would be enough for the Terriers, who were outscored 7-2 during their season-opening four-game slide.

He turned away a right-footed shot from the left wing by the Bisons’ McKinley Smith in the 14th minute and pulled in a free-kick attempt off the boot of Rahman Alarape seven minutes later.

The Terriers’ offense, however, wasn’t content to let its goaltender settle matters on his own.

Makaya accepted a nice give-and-go feed from junior Harry Odell just three minutes after the opening score and put it past Hamilton for a 2-0 lead, netting his second goal of the campaign.

Galimi picked up a loose ball off a shot by Bezecourt in the second half, ending any hope of a Bisons comeback with a quick stuff-in for his second tally of the year, as well.

The win should provide the Terriers with renewed confidence heading into Saturday night’s visit to West Point, N.Y., to take on Army.

St. Francis outshot Howard (0-8), 23-5, and Binks made five saves en route to his first shutout of the year.

“We feel that we’re playing much better,” Giovatto noted. “Definitely a little bit more confidence. It’s a new group so we’re trying to mesh together. We’re definitely feeling excited about Saturday.”

***

Unfortunately, the men’s soccer squad at LIU-Brooklyn was unable to notch its first victory Wednesday night in Newark, N.J., as it fell to 0-6 with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of NJIT.

Senior forward Brice Merwine, a bright spot during the Blackbirds’ tough start to the campaign, came through yet again with his sixth goal of the season, converting a penalty shot in the 66th minute that cut NJIT’s advantage to 2-1.

But the Highlanders staved off sophomore forward Naeem Charles’ bid for a tying goal minutes later and sealed the deal with a tally in the 88th minute, sending the Blackbirds home winless to Downtown Brooklyn for Saturday’s Alumni Day high noon showdown with nationally ranked George Mason.

Merwine, a Pennsylvania native who registered two goals all of last season, has scored in four straight games for LIU, including back-to-back two-tally outputs against Saint Joseph’s and Rider earlier this month.

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In other Blackbirds sports news, former LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball standout Cleandra Roberts will be playing professionally in Bulgaria this coming season after agreeing to a deal with Rilski Sportist Samokov, the Downtown school’s website announced.

A first-team All-NEC honoree as a senior, Roberts finished her senior season at LIU averaging 18.7 points per game, good for fourth in the NEC. The Miami, Fla., native led LIU in scoring in 21 of the team’s 29 games, and had 14 games with 20-plus points during the 2013-14 campaign.  
 
Roberts will begin her rookie season with Rilski Sportist Samokov on Oct. 25, as the squad looks to improve on its fourth-place finish in the Bulgarian National Basketball League last year.

***
Also at LIU, Blackbirds head baseball coach Alex Trezza announced the addition of Louie Bernardini and Matt Grosso to the coaching staff.

Bernardini, who joins the Blackbirds from Brown University, will serve as pitching coach, while Grosso, who played at Notre Dame, will be the graduate-assistant coach.

Bernardini spent one season as pitching coach at Brown after two years serving in the same capacity for Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

“Lou brings a wealth of knowledge to the LIU-Brooklyn Baseball program and our pitching staff,” Trezza said. “He is the right man for the job and his enthusiasm for teaching the game, along with his experience, will enable our pitchers to not only grow on the field, but off the field as well.”

Grosso joins the staff after spending one season as a volunteer assistant at Sacred Heart.

“Matt’s knowledge of the game at this early stage in his coaching career is second to none,” Trezza said. “LIU-Brooklyn baseball will benefit immensely from his work ethic and his attention to detail. We are very fortunate to have such a great young coach.”

LIU is coming off a solid 25-25-1 campaign in 2014, going 11-13 in NEC play and just missing out on a spot in the conference tournament.


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