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St. Francis Terriers soccer living up to ‘great expectations’

Late Tally Extends Season-Opening Unbeaten Streak to Five

September 16, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Senior netminder Jack Binks made five saves Saturday afternoon in Jersey City as the St. Francis Brooklyn soccer team extended its season-opening unbeaten streak to five games with a 1-1 draw at Saint Peter’s. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics
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Before their season even began, the St. Francis Terriers knew there would be a massive bullseye on their backs as defending two-time Northeast Conference champions.

Thus far, not a single opponent has hit that bullseye, though a few have come close, as the Terriers (3-0-2) remain unbeaten entering Wednesday night’s match with visiting St. Joseph’s at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“The expectations are the same as always,” SFC head coach Tom Giovatto noted before the Terriers took the pitch for their season opener last month against the University of Connecticut.

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“We want to play well, want to have a chance to make it to the playoffs,” added the reigning North Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. “Once you get into the playoffs anything can happen.”

The Terriers have made it happen twice in a row after going without a conference title since 1998.

First, they knocked off Bryant on Andy Cormack’s historic overtime goal to end a 15-year championship drought in the 2013 NEC Final, and then Cormack, better known as Captain Clutch to Eagle readers, delivered his second “Golden Goal” in as many years by drilling home the 2014 title-clincher against St. Francis (Pa.) last November.

The former Second-Team All-NEC selection is now a part of Giovatto’s coaching staff as these new-look Terriers try to grab a third consecutive title.

Thus far, it’s hard to imagine they won’t get a chance to defend their crown come November.

Trailing by a goal in the second half on Saturday afternoon at Jaroschak Field in Jersey City, the Terriers appeared on the verge of their first loss of the campaign, but senior midfielder Vincent Bezecourt, who delivered the game-winning tally in last week’s 1-0 home victory over Lafayette, struck again in the 65th minute as SFC pulled out a 1-1 tie at Saint Peter’s.

The free kick from the top of the penalty box kept the Terriers unbeaten in regular-season play since a 1-0 defeat at SFU on Oct. 17, 2014, that’s 10 matches in a row, if you’re counting, and doesn’t include SFC’s two NEC tournaments wins before a tough 3-0 defeat to Old Dominion in the opening round of last year’s NCAA Championships in Norfolk, Va.

Losing Cormack and former All-NEC First-Team Selection Riccardo Milano may have been a setback for most squads, but the Terriers have thrived with their current crew, which includes returning red-shirt senior goalie Jack Binks, who stopped five shots against St. Peter’s.

“We have a good group of guys coming back. It’s their time to step up,” Giovatto said on the team’s web site. “We lost two real core players, not just soccer-wise, leadership-wise,”

SFC did have its 451-minute scoreless streak snapped Saturday as Binks was unable to save Ezequiel Cei’s 22-footer in the 61st minute.

But just four minutes later, Bezecourt’s third goal of the young season drew the Terriers even, and Binks made it stand up by successfully challenging Carlos Cartegna’s bull rush from 15 yards out in the 100th minute.

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Over at LIU-Brooklyn, the Blackbirds’ soccer club got two goals from freshman Rasmus Hansen and seven saves by Cole Palmer before succumbing, 3-2, in double overtime to visiting Saint Joseph’s on Sunday night at LIU Field.

Hansen, a slashing forward from Denmark, found the back of the net in the 19th and 51st minutes, but Emmanuel Temeh knotted the contest in regulation and scored the game-winner in the 103rd to give the Hawks (1-4) their first win of the year entering Wednesday evening’s showdown with the unbeaten Terriers.

LIU (2-4) will return to the pitch Friday evening in search of its first win in four contests against visiting Howard before hitting the road to face St. Peter’s on Sunday afternoon.

***

In other local college sports news, St. Joseph’s Brooklyn on Tuesday officially announced the hiring of two new head coaches to the athletic program.

SJC alum and Sheepshead Bay resident Thomas Flahive was named the new women’s head basketball coach, a post he formerly held, and Roger Crawford has been tabbed to lead both the men’s and women’s tennis squads in advance of the Bears’ inaugural season of Skyline Conference action in that sport.

“I’m extremely happy to welcome Tom back to the SJC family and hand the reins back to him,” said SJC Athletic Director Frank Carbone, who himself compiled a 271-246 record in 18 seasons as women’s head coach after succeeding Flahive at the helm in 1997. “Tom brings back home a wealth of experience and it’s fitting that he continues the program’s legacy as it enters a new era joining the Skyline Conference.” 

“I am truly honored to be selected as the new head coach of the St. Joseph’s College Lady Bears Basketball team,” Flahive added. “Frank and I have remained close friends since my departure in 1997. He has done a tremendous job here and I am very excited about continuing his winning traditions.” 

Crawford, a native of Ghana with over 20 years of coaching and playing experience, will try to help develop a new program on Clinton Hill, where the Bears hope to compete with the best of the Skyline in men’s and women’s tennis. 

“I’m humbled and thrilled for Frank to grant me the opportunity to return to coaching collegiate tennis,” said Crawford, who coached the Yeshiva University women’s squad from 2006-08. “I have dedicated my life to developing great tennis players and I’m excited to do the same for the Bears and Lady Bears.”


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