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St. Francis soccer protects home with double-OT win

Olajide Celebrates Birthday with Clutch Game-Winner Against NJIT

September 15, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Senior Yussuf Olajide celebrated his 22nd birthday with a game-winning goal in double overtime Wednesday evening as SFC Brooklyn edged visiting NJIT, 2-1, at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo courtesy of St. Francis College

Having gone 0-2-1 on their recently completed three-game road trip, and winless in their last four games overall, the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers’ men’s soccer club needed a lift Wednesday night at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

And birthday boy Yussuf Olajide certainly provided one.

The just-turned-22-year-old forward drove home the game-winning tally in double overtime as the Terriers fought back from an early deficit and pulled out a dramatic 2-1 victory over visiting NJIT, improving their overall record to 2-3-1 and providing some relief for head coach Tom Giovatto.

“It’s definitely huge, especially at home,” Giovatto told the Eagle Thursday morning from his offices at the Remsen Street school.

“You always want to protect home field,” he added after SFC posted its first home win of the year. “We have a lot of new players. We just want to jell. We hope to be ready when conference [play] starts.”

The Terriers appeared on the precipice of a five-game winless skid, a rare slide for a team that captured the Northeast Conference championship in both 2013 and 2014 before watching neighborhood rival LIU-Brooklyn raise the trophy last November.

NJIT got on the board first in the 12th minute when Highlanders junior midfielder Mamadou Guirassy gathered a deflection in the box and beat SFC goalie Seth Erdman on a well-struck shot into the upper left corner of the net.

With one goal or fewer in each of their previous five games this season, the Terriers were desperate to get even, and did so in the 66th minute, when freshman back-liner Faouzi Taieb netted his first collegiate goal on a corner-kick feed from senior midfielder Salvatore Barone, a member of both SFC NEC championship squads.

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Olajide, a Brooklyn native, finally broke the deadlock in the second OT, blowing past his defender, sliding past Highlanders goalie Victor Pujades and depositing the ball into the lower right corner of the net.

“He had a tough first half and a great second half and overtime,” Giovatto said of Olajide. “[He] made a great run, put him one-on-one with the goaltender. Great goal. We needed it.”

Erdman shook off the early goal allowed and finished with four saves for SFC, which hopes to fill up on some home cooking the next several weeks.

The Terriers will take on Army here on Sunday at 1 p.m., before hosting Saint Peter’s (next Wednesday) and Howard (9/24).

“We are playing a bunch of games at home,” Giovatto noted. “It’s been a tough trip, a lot of traveling. We are trying to get healthy.”

Healthy, and geared up for a run at retaining their title in two months.

Right now, however, LIU remains the favorite to repeat as NEC champions, something Giovatto doesn’t pay much heed to as he continues to build toward the conference portion of the schedule, which kicks off Oct. 7 at Sacred Heart.

“We always want to be the champs,” Giovatto insisted. “It doesn’t matter if its LIU or anyone else.”

The Blackbirds will be playing locally as well this week, beginning with Friday evening’s home opener at LIU Field against defending Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Rider, which is currently ranked No. 22 in the nation.

Head coach TJ Kostecky’s team will also host Manhattan College here on Sunday at 1 p.m., hoping to build on a solid 2-2-1 season-opening road trip, including last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Howard.

* * *

The Brooklyn College women’s soccer club opened the home portion of its schedule with a 3-2 win over CUNYAC rival John Jay on Wednesday, thanks to two goals from freshman forward Victoria Ramirez.

Senior midfielder Jordan Kerwin also tallied for the Bulldogs (2-3), but Ramirez’s standout effort, which included the go-ahead tally off a deflection from 20 yards out with just over 10 minutes to play, definitely caught the eye of BC head coach Patrick Horne.

“We have eight new starters that are still getting to know one another and it’s a process,” Horne noted. “Only a freshman, I thought Victoria played an exceptional match, especially down the stretch scoring the game-winner.”

Senior goalie Samantha Rodriguez made five big saves for BC, which will seek its third win in a row here on Saturday against York.

“I thought it was a good win despite some lapses during the match, but definitely a credit to the team to pull it out despite not playing our best soccer,” Horne said of Wednesday’s victory.

The LIU-Brooklyn women’s soccer squad remained winless on the season Wednesday afternoon, dropping to 0-7 following a 2-0 defeat to undefeated Boston College in Newton, Massachusetts.

The struggling Blackbirds were outshot by a whopping 31-3 county by the Eagles (8-0-1), but sophomore goalkeeper kept LIU afloat for as long as she could, making 13 saves in the one-sided affair.

The Blackbirds will get another shot at win No. 1 when they host Saint Joseph’s at LIU Field on Friday at 4 p.m.

* * *

St. Francis Brooklyn junior Annais Cummiskey was named the Northeast Conference Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.

Cummiskey finished seventh out of 96 runners at the Fordham Fiasco last Saturday with a personal best time of 19:36.59 on the Van Cortlandt Park course.

The Tenafly, New Jersey product surpassed 11 runners from meet winner Yale, the third-ranked team in the Northeast region, to pace the Terriers.

The 2015 NEC Cross Country Rookie of the Year finished just 27 seconds behind the race winner in her second top-10 finish of the season.

 

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