St. Francis’ Binks keeps blanking opponents
Terriers’ Junior Netminder Runs Scoreless Streak to Six
After fighting off an early season bout of championship hangover, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer team appears primed to begin defending its first Northeast Conference title in 15 years Friday afternoon, when it visits Sacred Heart for its league opener.
Having reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Week Jack Binks between the pipes should help the Terriers significantly in that pursuit.
“The guys have a lot of confidence in him,” St. Francis head coach Tom Giovatto said of his standout netminder during an exclusive phone interview with the Eagle from his offices at the Remsen Street school on Tuesday afternoon.
“When he’s sharp and on his game he keeps everybody focused,” Giovatto added. “He does not stop talking and communicating [with his teammates]. He’s constantly organizing the guys. He’s sharp and keeps everybody else sharp. He’s the coach of the backline.”
The junior goaltender, who came to Downtown Brooklyn via Darlington, England, extended his shutout streak to a school-record six games – that’s 582 minutes and 32 seconds, if you’re counting – with last Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 whitewashing of visiting NJIT at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Binks, who backstopped the Terriers (5-4-2) to the NEC crown as a redshirt sophomore last season, has not allowed a single tally since St. Francis ended a season-opening four-game losing streak with a 2-2, double-overtime draw at Lafayette College on Sept. 13.
Though he was only credited with one save against the Highlanders (5-3-3) on Saturday, Binks continued his steady ascent in the St. Francis record books.
A 73rd-minute stop on a shot by NJIT’s Jason Chippy was the 106th of Binks’ career, moving him into 12th place on the Remsen Street school’s all-time list.
After senior defender Riccardo Milano and junior forward John Makaya gave him a 2-0 lead, Binks was able to secure his 13th shutout victory as a Terrier, and sixth in a row.
“There’s a lot of talk about [the scoreless streak],” Giovatto admitted. “But we’re trying to talk about getting better. And we’ve really improved (since the start of the year). We’re on a nice streak here.”
St. Francis has gone unbeaten in its last seven games (5-0-2) overall, outscoring the opposition, 13-2, during that stretch, including an eye-popping 11-0 in the last six matches.
All this success following a brutal 0-4 start to the season, which saw the new-look Terriers, minus last year’s senior stars Gabriel Bagot and Kevin Correa, get outscored 7-2.
While Binks, who boasts a miniscule 0.78 goals-against average, and the Terriers’ backline has been busy preserving the shutout streak, the St. Francis offense is also beginning to click.
Milano delivered the only goal the Terriers would need Saturday, when he headed home a corner kick in the 42nd minute off a perfect set-up from freshman midfielder Vincent Bezecourt.
With the Highlanders threatening to tie in the second half, Makaya knocked home his sixth career goal off Bezecourt’s second assist of the game and sixth helper of the season.
“We needed a little time to get used to it,” Giovatto noted of his starting 11. “It’s a brand new group. We had to figure out where guys needed to have the ball. We’re starting to jell. We’re not there yet.”
St. Francis outshot NJIT, 15-10, and held a 7-1 advantage in corner kicks leading into the NEC opener against the Pioneers, who suffered a 1-0 loss here in Brooklyn Heights last Oct. 11.
Giovatto hopes his team can carry its strong recent play into the games that will help the Terriers earn a trip to their desired destiny: a return to the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s conference. Everybody knows its conference,” he emphasized. “Throw out the records. Records don’t mean anything. We’re just worried about playing better and playing the way we’ve been playing in these non-conference games.”
LIU-Brooklyn secured its first win of the year with a 4-1 victory at Howard in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, but the Blackbirds’ men’s soccer squad dropped a heartbreaker, 1-0, at LaSalle in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
Despite 14 shots, including five on goal, over the first 90 minutes, the Blackbirds (1-8) were held scoreless for the fourth time this season.
A foul inside the box in the 93rd minute cost LIU the game as Matt Robinson’s penalty shot avoided the grasp of Blackbirds freshman goalkeeper Logan Keys.
The Blackbirds will try to get back on track Friday at LIU Field in their NEC opener against preseason conference favorite Central Connecticut.
Brooklyn College senior midfielder Fernand Grisales completed a rare hat trick with all three goals as the Bulldogs edged SUNY-Old Westbury, 3-2, at BC Field on Monday afternoon, ending their three-game losing streak.
The Bulldogs (4-8) will try to make it two wins in a row Saturday at high noon in a CUNYAC matchup against Baruch in Maspeth, N.Y.
The LIU-Brooklyn women’s soccer team suffered a 2-1 loss at Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday afternoon in its NEC opener.
Lucy Gunton-Jones provided the lone tally in the 24th minute for the Blackbirds, who had their two-match winning streak snapped.
LIU will host its next two conference opponents, beginning with Friday’s 4 p.m. match here against Sacred Heart.
The LIU women’s volleyball team continued its NEC dominance with a four-set (20-25, 25-12, 25-21, 25-13) victory over Sacred Heart on Sunday afternoon, improving to 12-5 overall this season, including a perfect 3-0 in league play.
Senior Annika Foit, the reigning two-time NEC Player of the Year, recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 12 kills and 11 digs and junior Tamara Ignjic added 12 kills and 10 digs for the Blackbirds, who dropped the opening set before rallying past the visiting Pioneers.
Pursuing its third straight NEC crown, LIU will continue league play Saturday against Bryant at the Steinberg Wellness Center in a scheduled 1 p.m. start.
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