LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer looks to make most of last season
Kostecky’s crew wins 6th straight after receiving bad news
The vision of “One LIU” will not include the Blackbirds’ men’s soccer team, even though it is in the middle of a brilliant campaign.
With the Brooklyn and LIU-Post campuses combining their athletic programs at the start of the 2019 academic year, the Blackbirds, one of the more successful teams on the local soccer scene over the past several years, will no longer be playing at LIU Field here in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.
Instead, the two squads will somehow be combined into a single Division I program in Brookville, N.Y., where the LIU-Post Pioneers have emerged as a Division II powerhouse.
There have not been any official announcements regarding how the two schools would combine the programs, or what the team’s new nickname would be, or who would be coaching the squad.
That’s a lot of unanswered questions for a program that has been as steady as they come during the 20 years head coach TJ Kostecky has been at the helm, earning a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament, including one in 2015.
But the universities doubtlessly stand to benefit, both financially and from a national exposure standpoint, from the new configuration.
“Long Island University is a nationally recognized teaching and research institution,” LIU President Kimberly R. Cline said last Wednesday during a press conference to announce the new setup at the New York Athletic Club.
“We understand the importance of athletics in enhancing our brand nationwide by unifying our university community and our 200,000 alumni around the world,” she added. “Our student-athletes competing at the highest level plays a major role in this. We are extremely pleased that the NCAA has embraced this vision for our university’s future.”
But Kostecky is not in any position to embrace the athletic department’s new vision just yet.
That’s because his Blackbirds, fresh off a stirring win over archrival and defending two-time defending Northeast Conference champion St. Francis Brooklyn in their league opener at Brooklyn Bridge Park two weeks ago, are the front-runners to win their second NEC title in four seasons.
Just two days after learning that their program was about to be reformed and/or dismantled from its current state, the red-hot Blackbirds (7-3-1 overall, 2-0 NEC) went out and defended their home turf, holding on for a 1-0 victory over visiting Central Connecticut State last Friday for their sixth consecutive win.
Senior forward Romario Guscott scored the game’s lone goal in the 64th minute, and freshman goalkeeper Sam Ilin of Midwood High School made it stand up with his second shutout of the season as LIU remained the only unbeaten and untied team in NEC play.
Sophomore midfielder Daniel Quiros Herrera made the key steal before assisting on Guscott’s tally, which kept the Blackbirds’ record unblemished since a 2-1 loss to San Diego State in California on Sept. 7.
“Despite the announcement that this is the last year LIU-Brooklyn will be sponsoring a men’s soccer team, our team remained focused,” Kostecky told the Brooklyn Eagle following the big win.
“No distractions for this group,” he added.
Up next for LIU-Brooklyn is Friday night’s home showdown with Sacred Heart, which is coming off Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at the University of Connecticut.
“One game at a time,” Kostecky said of his team’s unwavering focus amid the disheartening news.
“We’re looking forward to extending the streak on Friday versus Sacred Heart.”
Over at SFC Brooklyn, coach Tom Giovatto’s Terriers are still looking to find the form that has helped them win four of the last five NEC soccer crowns.
After officially beginning defense of their latest league title with a 1-0 win over Central Connecticut State on Sept. 28, the Terriers (4-8 overall, 1-2 NEC) have dropped two in a row, including Sunday’s 1-0 setback to visiting Robert Morris at BPP.
Senior midfielder Tomas DeAndrade did his best to get SFC on the board throughout the contest, putting five shots on goal, only to be denied each time by Colonials netminder Winter Fondi.
The Terriers outshot RMU, 12-6, and had six corner-kick opportunities, but couldn’t find the back of the net in a frustrating game that saw the teams combine for 26 fouls, including 15 by SFC.
An unsightly 2-4 at home thus far this season, the Terriers are hoping for better luck on the road Sunday when they head to Smithfield, R.I., to take on NEC rival Bryant at 1 p.m.
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