St. Francis soccer closes in on clinching home field
Remain Unbeaten in Conference Play with 2-0 Blanking of CCSU
The St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer club is one win away from making sure the upcoming Northeast Conference Tournament runs through Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP).
The red-hot Terriers (9-4-2) improved to a perfect 5-0 in league action last Friday night at BBP, outlasting visiting Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), 2-0, behind goals from senior midfielder Fabian Suele and sophomore forward Leonard Kirschner.
Having outscored their first five NEC foes by a combined 11-0, the Terriers can wrap up home-field advantage throughout the conference tournament with a victory Sunday at Bryant in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
“That would be nice,” SFC head coach Tom Giovatto told the Brooklyn Eagle Wednesday morning from his offices at the Remsen Street school.
“Bryant is a very good team. They’re playing really well lately. We know we’re in for a battle.”
They were in for one during the first half Friday night as well.
The Blue Devils (2-9-3, 1-2-1 NEC), desperate to climb the standings in the hopes of grabbing one of the league’s four coveted postseason spots, came storming out to the pitch with a strong resolve.
The early rush forced the Terriers back on their heels a bit before Giovatto began making key substitutions to turn the tide.
He installed Kirschner, junior forward Lukas Hauer and sophomore midfielders Jules Paillard and Tommy De Andrade prior to halftime.
“[CCSU] played a really strong first half,” Giovatto said. “We had our backs against the wall, hung in and played good defense. We made a couple of subs late in the first half, they really changed the game. They gave us some energy.”
The quartet tilted the momentum back into SFC’s favor following intermission as Paillard lifted a free kick into the penalty area in the 52nd minute that senior defender Collyns Laokandi headed over toward Suele, who finished for the game’s first goal.
Kirschner drove home the clincher in the 82nd minute off another assist from Laokandi as the Terriers improved to 5-1-1 at BBP this season and 7-1 in their last eight matches overall.
Junior goaltender Roberto Bazzichetto made two saves for the win as SFC outshot CCSU, 18-5, keeping the Terriers’ sheet clean heading into Sunday’s key match with Bryant.
“You never think that [you will win these conference games by shutout], but you always hope that,” Giovatto noted. “That’s your goal every game. We’re still just in the middle of this. We know we need to keep getting better every week.”
A victory in Rhode Island will render the Nov. 6 showdown with LIU-Brooklyn in the annual Battle of Brooklyn game virtually meaningless for the Terriers, who could take a loss and still host the NEC Tournament.
However, the local rivalry, which has picked up serious steam over the past three years, figures to be just as heated the Sunday after next regardless of the standings.
SFC won back-to-back NEC crowns under Giovatto in 2013 and 2014 before longtime LIU coach TJ Kostecky and the Blackbirds beat the Terriers in the NEC semifinals en route to grabbing the title last year.
LIU kept the heat on SFC in its home game last Friday night, blowing past Sacred Heart, 5-0, as junior Naeem Charles and sophomore sensation Rasmus Hansen scored two goals apiece.
With the big shutout win, the second-place Blackbirds (9-4-2) improved to 3-1-1 in NEC play, a position they hope to maintain, and improve upon when they host Fairleigh Dickinson here at LIU Field this Friday.
Freshman Giuseppe Barone had a goal and two assists and senior goalie Logan Keys made two saves against the Pioneers as the Blackbirds boosted their home record to a perfect 5-0.
The NEC Tournament will kick off Nov. 11.
In other local college soccer action, the Brooklyn College Bulldogs had their Senior Night festivities spoiled a bit by local rival St. Joseph’s Brooklyn, which rolled to a 2-0 win at BC Field on Monday afternoon.
The match was BC’s final non-conference tune-up for Wednesday’s CUNYAC quarterfinal clash against the College of Staten Island across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the season-ending, single-elimination tournament.
Senior forward Valentyn Kharko had four shots on goal for the Bulldogs, who lost their previous meeting with CSI, 2-1, earlier this year.
Freshmen Daniel Goncalves and Antonio Vidal each scored for St. Joe’s, which got seven big saves from first-year netminder Julian Rodriguez.
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