First-place St. Francis soccer is sharing the wealth
Sweep Weekend Set in Pennsylvania to Maintain Perfect NEC Mark
The St. Francis Terriers relied heavily on French midfielder Vincent Bezecourt the previous two seasons as the current New York Red Bulls prospect put his stamp on the club’s 2014 Northeast Conference championship and last year’s run to the NEC Tournament semifinals.
But this year, Terriers head coach Tom Giovatto is getting significant contributions from all over the pitch, as evidenced during this weekend’s sweep of St. Francis Pennsylvania and Robert Morris (RMU) by identical 2-0 scores, boosting SFC’s season record to 8-4-2 overall, including a perfect 4-0 in NEC action.
The first-place Terriers, who lead the conference by five points with only three regular-season contests remaining, got a goal in each whitewashing from senior midfielder Salvatore Barone.
That made the Xaverian High School alum the fourth different Terrier to capture NEC Player of the Week honors this season, a new program record, and an indication that SFC’s meteoric rise to the top of the conference is a result of a well-balanced attack.
Barone follows Dominick Falanga, Yussuf Olajide and Djiby Sarr in bringing home the weekly honor.
“Everybody is stepping up,” Terriers head coach Tom Giovatto told the Brooklyn Eagle Tuesday morning from his offices at the Remsen Street School.
“We don’t have a Bezecourt like we had last year, it’s very important that we get it from all over the place.”
Bezecourt, who recently helped Red Bulls II win the 2016 USL Regular Season Championship, led the Terriers with 17 points (seven goals, three assists) last year as they came within a penalty-kick shootout of reaching their third consecutive NEC Final.
Thus far this year, Olajide, Barone and Falanga are spearheading the Terriers’ attack with 10 points apiece.
From a productive front-line to a stingy back four, the Terriers have played near-perfect soccer during these first four NEC contests, outscoring their opponents by a combined 9-0, including Sunday’s 2-0 blanking of the Colonials in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
Senior netminder Seth Erdman rolled to his fourth shutout of the campaign, facing just one shot on goal as the SFC defense snuffed out virtually every scoring chance by RMU.
“The back four is playing great,” Giovatto noted. “We’ve been working at it all season long. Seth is playing great. He came up really big for us this weekend. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
With the back-to-back road wins, the Terriers are moving into position to clinch the conference crown before their much-anticipated Battle for Brooklyn showdown with reigning NEC champion and neighborhood rival LIU-Brooklyn on Nov. 6.
However, Giovatto won’t allow his team to start thinking about recapturing the conference titles it won in 2013 and 2014.
Instead, the Terriers will just keep focusing on the task at hand: Friday night’s showdown with Central Connecticut State at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
“Great performance this weekend,” Giovatto said. “It’s a very tough trip going out there, and coming back with six points is great. The remaining games are all going to be tough. Every single game in conference is going to be tough. We need a good performance on Friday.”
The Blackbirds (8-4-2, 2-1-1 NEC) saw their 12-game league unbeaten streak come to a sudden halt Sunday in Loretto, Pennsylvania, suffering a 3-0 loss to St. Francis-Pennsylvania, the team it knocked off in last year’s NEC Final.
LIU, which opened its two-game trip to Pennsylvania with Friday’s 3-1 win over RMU, got outshot, 14-9, and surrendered a pair of goals to SFU’s Jack Webber, the first of which came about 10 minutes before halftime, putting the Blackbirds in an early hole that they were unable to climb out of.
Trailing the Terriers by five points in the standings, the Blackbirds hope to begin making up ground Friday here at LIU Field against Sacred Heart.
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In local pro sports news, the Brooklyn Nets continued their exhibition slate with Monday night’s 120-99 loss to the Boston Celtics in front of just over 15,000 fans at the TD Garden.
Sean Kilpatrick, new general manager Sean Marks’ first significant addition to the club upon taking over last year, scored a team-high 15 points and Jeremy Lin added 13 points and five assists for Brooklyn, which dropped its fourth straight following a victory in its preseason opener.
After the game, the Nets requested waivers on Beau Beech, Chase Budinger, Jorge Gutierrez and Egidijus Mockevicius, cutting their roster down to 16 players, meaning there will be one more cut before or after Thursday night’s exhibition finale against the Knicks at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
Beech, who originally signed with Brooklyn on Aug. 5, appeared in only one preseason game with the Nets, scoring three points in eight minutes.
Budinger saw action in four preseason contests, averaging 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game after signing with the Nets on Sept. 26.
Gutierrez, who also originally signed with Brooklyn on Sept. 26, appeared in three preseason games, averaging of 3.7 points and 2.0 assists in 9.3 minutes per game.
Mockevicius logged nine minutes of action in one preseason game with the Nets. He originally signed with Brooklyn on Aug. 5.
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