Barone scores a big one for Blackbirds
Freshman Tallies Tiebreaker in LIU’s 3-2 Victory at West Point
Facing a potential 0-2 to start in their follow-up to the history making 2015 campaign, the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds’ men’s soccer squad got a huge lift from a first-year forward fresh out of Bay Ridge’s Xaverian High School.
Freshman Giuseppe Barone snapped a 2-2 deadlock in the 69th minute with the first goal of his collegiate career Sunday afternoon at West Point, lifting the reigning Northeast Conference champion Blackbirds to a 3-2 victory over Army.
Barone, who managed one shot in LIU’s season-opening 4-1 loss at Siena last Friday, certainly made the most of his big opportunity in Game 2. He took a pass from junior Na’eem Charles and deposited it past the reach of Black Knights netminder Justin Stoll.
Charles and last year’s NEC Rookie of the Year Rasmus Hansen also tallied for LIU, which was looking to climb above .500 Friday afternoon at Bucknell in Burlington, Vermont.
The Blackbirds bested local rival and former two-time defending NEC champion St. Francis Brooklyn twice last season, including a thrilling shootout victory in the conference semifinals, en route to their first league title since 2004.
Armed with the addition of Barone and nine returning letter-winners, long-time head coach TJ Kostecky is eager to see his team retain the crown, which has resided in this neighborhood for the past three years.
“My approach to coaching is based on the fact that soccer is different from other American sports,” Kostecky noted prior to the season. “It is really a player-directed game. Most coaching is done in preparation for the game as opposed to in-game coaching. By game time, it is usually too late to accomplish anything.
“I also encourage players and coaching staff to evaluate all aspects of the program and to give me feedback,” the reigning NEC Coach of the Year added. “I am only one person and the players may have a different read on what is happening with the team.”
The Terriers, chomping at the bit to reclaim their title, posted a 1-0 victory at Lafayette in Easton Pennsylvania last Friday afternoon, but were upset, 1-0, by Rhode Island Wednesday in their home opener at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
SFC (1-1) outshot the visiting Rams (2-0), 9-6, but were unable to cash in on their scoring chances, leaving them to try to pick up the pieces and get back on the winning track Sunday afternoon at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
“It was a rough offseason,” head coach Tom Giovatto admitted following a pair of heartbreaking losses to the Blackbirds in the regular-season finale and the epic semifinal shootout.
“Nobody likes to lose,” he added. “We pride ourselves in defending well and getting shutouts. We want to make sure we’re really good defensively, but we also want to attack.”
Make sure to circle your calendars for the Nov. 6 showdown between LIU and SFC at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Blackbirds were ranked first in the preseason NEC coaches’ poll, with the Terriers close behind in the No. 2 spot.
Both teams will likely be battling for postseason position, if not the outright league title, two months from now on our new local pitch.
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In other local college sports news, LIU-Brooklyn head men’s basketball coach Jack Perri revealed the Blackbirds’ 2016-17 schedule Thursday morning.
The slate will include the usual NEC fare, along with three scheduled contests at Downtown’s Barclays Center, including a Nov. 16 meeting against Loyola-Maryland, a Dec. 11 clash with St. John’s and a Dec. 21 showdown with Niagara at the home of the Brooklyn Nets.
The always highly anticipated Battle of Brooklyn games against SFC are slated for Jan. 14 at the Steinberg Wellness Center and Feb. 16 at the Pope Center on Remsen Street.
Last season, the Blackbirds went 16-15 overall, 9-9 in NEC play and were knocked out by Wagner in the NEC Tournament Semifinals after beating Sacred Heart in the quarters.
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Over at Brooklyn College, David Wallis has been named the new men’s and women’s tennis head coach, making him responsible for overseeing all aspects of both programs including recruiting, match preparation, in-match coaching and academic monitoring of all student-athletes.
Wallis replaces former coach Michael Phillips, who will remain at BC as an assistant for both programs.
Prior to his new job with the Bulldogs, Wallis served as head coach for the Bloomfield College (NCAA Division II) men’s tennis team from 2005-2008. Hired at the inception of that program in 2005, Wallis was able to build a program from scratch that remained competitive until his departure in 2008.
Before breaking into the college ranks, Wallis worked as the head boys’ varsity tennis coach at the Knox School (N.Y.) from 2003-2005. He also served as the girls’ varsity head tennis coach there for the 2004 season.
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