Giovatto urges Terriers to come together
NEC champion Terriers lacking consistency, according to head coach
St. Francis Brooklyn head men’s soccer coach Tom Giovatto is not seeing the type of collective, consistent effort from his team that he is grown accustomed to over the past five years.
Fresh off their second consecutive Northeast Conference title and fourth league championship in the past five seasons, this dynastic program has opened the 2018 campaign with four losses in its first six games, including Saturday’s 3-1 setback at Iona in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“We have to play together as a team. It’s got to be a full team effort and it’s got to be for 90 minutes,” Giovatto insisted after the Gaels held off the Terriers following Rory Head’s go-ahead free kick in the 38th minute at Iona’s Mazzella Field.
Senior Anthony Gimenez’s first career goal, which came via a free kick from 20 yards out in the 28th minute, appeared to put SFC back in the hunt after it surrendered a tally in the third minute to Iona’s Killian Columbie.
But the Terriers (2-4) struggled to put forth a winning effort thereafter, despite outshooting the Gaels 17-14 and having nine different players take shots on Iona netminder Juan Alcantara, who came up with four big saves to thwart SFC’s bid to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Terriers, who blanked LaSalle 2-0 in Philadelphia last Wednesday to end a humbling three-game skid in which they were outscored by a collective 8-2 by the likes of Stony Brook, Manhattan College and Cornell, will have a chance to bounce back here at Brooklyn Bridge Park Wednesday against the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
But Giovatto remains concerned that his unit hasn’t been able to put forth the type of effort that has made it the beast of the NEC for the past half-decade and counting.
“It can’t be for spurts of 20 minutes here and there; it needs to be a complete effort,” he noted.
“We need to do a better job, we played a good game against La Salle, and we need to be more consistent.”
Tabbed as the preseason favorite to return to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six years, the Terriers’ fate will likely be decided in league play as they have not lost against an NEC foe since Nov. 8, 2015.
But doing better against non-league opponents in advance of the NEC opener against Central Connecticut State later this month remains important for a team that is unaccustomed to being beaten as soundly as it has during the early portion of the schedule.
“We have a lot of work to do to get into the playoffs,” Giovatto said after the Terriers received their No. 1 NEC ranking.
“Our first goal is to make it to the NEC Tournament and then we go from there. We have a lot of work to do before we even think about getting to the postseason.”
That work will likely include yet another showdown with LIU-Brooklyn, which has been tabbed as the No. 2 men’s soccer team in the NEC after its 5-0 loss to SFC in the league’s championship match at BPP last season.
The Blackbirds (2-3-1) averted a fourth consecutive defeat Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles against Loyola-Marymount as reigning NEC Player of the Year Rasmus Hansen and fellow fourth-year forward Romario Guscott scored the first two goals in a 3-1 victory over the Lions.
Midfielder Fredrik Mathisen assisted on Guscott’s game-opening tally and added a helper on fellow sophomore Daniel Quiros Herrero’s capper in the 58th minute for the Blackbirds, who are being coached by TJ Kostecky for the 20th consecutive seasons.
LIU’s biggest standout performance Sunday came from senior goalkeeper Cole Palmer, who made seven saves in his first start of the season before freshman Sam Ilin came on and made three stops of his own to preserve the victory.
The Blackbirds, the only team other than SFC to win an NEC title in the past five seasons, will be back in Downtown Brooklyn Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff against regional powerhouse Rider.
Also from LIU-Brooklyn, the Downtown school made an historic announcement Monday, revealing that women’s ice hockey would be the Blackbirds’ 20th Division I varsity sport beginning in 2019.
The start-up program will be headed by head coach Rob Morgan, who is coming off a year spent in China, where he was also helping to develop a women’s hockey program in advance of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our athletic department with the addition of women’s ice hockey,” said Deputy Director of Athletics Margaret Alaimo.
“It affirms our commitment to increasing athletic opportunities for women, and we are excited to welcome Coach Morgan to the LIU family. He has the passion, energy and vision that is needed to build a championship program.”
The Blackbirds will be competing in the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance at the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign, giving Morgan enough time to recruit talent and build some semblance of a roster.
“It’s been my career ambition to be a head coach at the Division I level,” said Morgan, who was previously the head coach of the Vanke Rays, one of two Chinese expansion clubs in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
“I’m so excited to share my knowledge and experiences in building a high-quality NCAA Division I hockey program at LIU-Brooklyn.”
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