Guscott scores a big one for Blackbirds
Overtime Tally at NJIT Gives LIU Best Non-League Start Since 1992
And now, the real season begins for the defending Northeast Conference champion LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds men’s soccer squad.
“The first part of the season is preparation for the second part,” longtime Blackbirds head coach TJ Kostecky told the Brooklyn Eagle Thursday morning after his team finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with a promising 6-3-1 mark, the best in school history since 1992.
“We want to improve, but the real season begins next Friday [at Bryant],” added Kostecky.
The not-so-real season came to a thrilling end for the Blackbirds when sophomore Romario Guscott delivered the tie-breaking goal in overtime Wednesday afternoon at NJIT on the campus of Kean University in Union, N.J.
The tally not only lifted the Blackbirds to a 2-1 victory in their non-conference finale, it also gave them a positive finish before a much-needed week off.
“We’re going to have a light practice Friday and then they’ll take the weekend off,” Kostecky revealed after talking about the rigors of playing three matches in the previous six days, and going 2-1 during that stretch.
“Then, we are going to get back to work Monday.”
Coming off a 4-1 loss at Albany on Sunday, the Blackbirds came out with a renewed resolve Wednesday, applying steady pressure before freshman Giuseppe Barone struck for his second goal of the year off a mishandle by NJIT netminder Victor Pujades in the 19th minute.
“We really responded very well after the Albany game on Sunday,” Kostecky noted.
“We came out with a lot of intensity and competition and put a lot of pressure on them defensively. We created a lot of turnovers, and on the first goal, Giuseppe scored a classic goal. He had to spin and put it over the goaltender. It was a really good goal.”
LIU held firm thereafter behind its backline and the goaltending of senior Logan Keys, who finished with six saves on the afternoon.
But the Highlanders struck back and knotted the contest at 1-1 in the 64th minute, when Diogo Ferreira got one past Keys off a feed from Zach Halma.
The Blackbirds got three key saves from Keys down the stretch in regulation, including two in the final two minutes to send the match into overtime.
“[Keys] came up big toward the end to give us life,” Kostecky said.
Junior Naeem Charles set up Guscott for the game-winner in the first extra session, giving the second-year forward from Kingston, Jamaica his team high-tying fourth goal of the season and sending the Blackbirds into their rare break with a huge win.
“Romario came on in overtime after he had a slow start and did well,” Kostecky said. “He buried it.”
Kostecky is well aware that an impressive performance in non-conference play will be rendered virtually meaningless unless the Blackbirds find a way to recapture the magic that helped them capture their first NEC crown since 2004 last November.
“We know that we’re 0-0,” he said. “Everyone is undefeated [in conference play] so it’s a clean slate for every [NEC] team. We’re all aware of it, and we expect everything to go up a notch.
“Everything becomes a little more challenging, a little faster. We have to be really tuned in on capitalizing on our chances. We’re excited.”
Friday’s NEC opener against the Bulldogs kicks off at 3 p.m., in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
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The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers saw their season-high five-game unbeaten streak snapped Wednesday afternoon at George Washington in our nation’s capital, suffering a 2-1 defeat to the Colonials in Washington, D.C.
Senior Salvatore Barone converted a penalty kick late in the second half for the Terriers’ only tally as SFC (4-4-2) endured its first loss since Sept. 7 at Hartford.
Barone, who has scored in three straight games, got to the spot when reigning NEC Player of the Week Yussuf Olajide was pulled down in the box with 4:18 remaining.
Goalie Roberto Bazzichetto made three saves for the Terriers, who are also off until next Friday, when they open NEC play at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Connecticut.
SFC was the two-time defending league champion before a shootout loss to LIU in last year’s NEC Tournament semifinals.
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Senior forward Valentyn Kharko scored twice in the final 20 minutes Wednesday night as the Brooklyn College men’s soccer squad remained unbeaten in CUNYAC play with a 2-0 home victory over John Jay.
Junior back Omer Capoglu set up Kharko for the game’s opening score in the 73rd minute, controlling a free ball and feeding a charging Kharko down the right center of the field before the FDR High School alum drilled it home.
Just under 10 minutes later, Kharko struck again off a feed from fellow fourth-year starter Jean-Luc Saint-Fleur to seal the match and give the Bulldogs a 5-5-1 overall mark, including 2-0-1 against CUNYAC foes.
Freshman goalie Jerron Steele posted his second shutout win of the year for BC, which outshot the Bloodhounds, 21-6.
The Bulldogs will visit Staten Island College on Saturday for a noon kickoff.
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