Brooklyn Heights

Cormack makes Terriers soccer twice ‘Golden’

Captain Clutch Delivers Again as SFC Repeats As NEC Champs

November 19, 2014 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Senior co-captain Andy Cormack has shown a knack for making history with championships on the line during his time at St. Francis Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics
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Andy “Captain Clutch” Cormack proved that once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are well worth repeating.

Almost one year to the day of his historic game-winning overtime goal off a free kick in last season’s Northeast Conference Championship match, the St. Francis Brooklyn senior captain delivered again, netting the OT clincher off a set piece against St. Francis University (Pa.) in Sunday’s NEC Title game in Loretto, Pa. 

With the thrilling 2-1 triumph, the Terriers (11-5-4) earned a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, where they will meet national powerhouse Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., on Thursday.

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“It’s amazing,” gushed Terriers head coach Tom Giovatto, who has led St. Francis to back-to-back soccer championships after a 15-year title drought at the Remsen Street school.

“The man over here comes up in the big spots,” Giovatto added, noting Cormack’s uncanny ability to produce “Golden Goals”. 

Last Nov. 17 in the NEC title game against Bryant in New Britain, Conn.,  Cormack set up for a free kick just seven minutes into the first overtime. The native of Plymouth, England proceeded to drill a shot past the outstretched arms of Bryant goalie Chris Knaub for a dramatic 3-2 triumph. 

On Sunday, Cormack only had to wait until the four-minute mark of the first overtime to end the match, and did so again off a set piece, beating SFU netminder Andrew Garcia from 15 yards out to spark the Terriers’ second championship celebration in as many years. 

“I had an idea that I was going to put the ball around the wall, but the keeper didn’t go all of the way back so I took the space that was given to me,” Cormack said of his second career history-making goal.  

“Compared to last year it was a bit more difficult because the angle wasn’t on my side,” he added. “Last year I had a bit more space. … If you would have told me two years in a row you’re going to be a champion, I would have thought you were crazy.” 

Want to get a bit crazier?

After besting Bryant last year, the Terriers played Penn State in a hotly contested opening-round NCAA Tournament match before suffering a tough 1-0 loss. 

This year, SFC actually believes it can knock off Old Dominion Thursday and advance in the tourney for the first time in school history.

“Old Dominion is an excellent team, but we think if we play up to our ability we can come away with a win,” Cormack boldly declared after the tournament brackets were announced Monday.

“This year we mean business and I think that shows by our record,” he added. “Last year we had a few regrets [after the Penn State game]. We thought we should have attacked a little bit more. We are not going to hold back this year.”

While many thought St. Francis’ NEC championship reign would be of the one-and-done variety after losing senior stars like Kevin Correia and Gabriel Bagot from last year’s squad, Giovatto held his new-look team together following a brutal 0-4-1 start this season.

The defending champions didn’t blink at the poor opening, however, going 11-1-3 the rest of the way en route to the school’s sixth overall championship in men’s soccer, leaving the program just one shy of the NEC record held by Fairleigh Dickinson.

Goaltender Jack Binks, who made four big saves in Sunday’s championship game, posted 10 shutouts during the Terriers’ late-season push. He’s relishing the chance to produce another clean sheet Thursday at ODU. 

“I think a lot of the guys are happy [about repeating as NEC champions], but we have a lot of work to do,” said the First Team NEC All-Conference keeper. “If we bring our A game we can get to the second round. We are going to play the same style as always. The defense responded to a really big test against a good Saint Francis University team in the NEC championship and we’ll have to play just as well on Thursday.” 

Key contributors like senior co-captain Riccardo Milano, sophomore defender Paul Galimi, freshman midfielder Vincent Bezecourt and junior forward John Makaya played vital roles in SFC’s quest to repeat, giving Giovatto hope that the Terriers won’t be finished after Thursday’s big match in Norfolk.

“We are excited to be in the tournament,” said the ninth-year head coach. “There are a lot of teams that wish they could be there and we are going to give Old Dominion our best shot.  This year we are more of a defensive team. We have the older guys back there and they are our leaders. They are the reason why we are where we are.”

“We’re so happy to have another opportunity,” added Milano. “Some of the guys already have experience and we remember what happened last year. We want to get past the first round and now we know what it takes.”

And if all else fails, the Terriers can always hope that the game will be decided on the foot of Cormack, who has proven twice now that he can be counted on to come through with the title on the line. 

“He’s one of the greatest captains in school history,” Giovatto said of his fourth-year leader. “On and off the field, he is one of the biggest reasons why the program has really changed.” 

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