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Eight is not enough for streaking LIU-Brooklyn soccer

Blackbirds look to extend hot streak at RMU

October 17, 2018 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Huib Achterkamp celebrates his game-winning header in overtime on Sunday as the soon-to-be-relocated LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer squad won its eighth game in a row. Photo courtesy of LIU-Brooklyn Athletics

It’s their last season in Downtown Brooklyn and the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds’ men’s soccer squad is certainly making the most of it.

Slated to begin play in their new Brookville, N.Y., digs next year, the Blackbirds resumed their ongoing dominance at LIU Field in heart-stopping fashion Sunday afternoon, edging Northeast Conference rival Mount St. Mary’s 2-1 in overtime on freshman midfielder Huib Achterkamp’s Golden Goal in the 97th minute.

LIU (9-3-1 overall, 4-0 NEC) improved to 6-0-1 on its soon-to-be-former home pitch this year as the university announced two weeks ago that the LIU-Brooklyn and LIU-Post athletic programs would be merged into a single Division I structure with their games to be played out on Long Island.

Though the news hit Blackbird players and coaches hard at first, the team’s performance on the field hasn’t been affected in the slightest.

LIU has won a season-high eight games in a row overall and is all alone atop the NEC table with the maximum 12 points following its fourth league contest.

“We’re now focused on the positives and things we can control, which is our
attitude, effort and teamwork,” long-time Blackbirds head coach TJ Kostecky told the Brooklyn Eagle as his team prepared to leave Brooklyn for a three-game road trip, beginning with Friday’s afternoon match at NEC rival Robert Morris University.

Sunday’s match against the Mount (2-8-3, 1-3-1) got off to an inauspicious start as the visitors jumped in front on freshman Yann Kouemi’s blistering shot from the top of the box just 24 seconds into play.

LIU dictated play thereafter, outshooting the Mount by an eye-popping 35-5.

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But the Blackbirds couldn’t produce the equalizer until the 87th minute, when junior midfielder Zach Edwards put the finishing touch on a brilliantly executed set piece off assists from senior Filip Nordstrom and sophomore Erik Johannsson.

The extra session came to an end after reigning NEC Player of the Year Rasmus Hansen drew a foul near the Mount’s end line.

The Blackbirds took advantage of yet another set piece as Nordstrom’s free kick was redirected into the net off the head of the 6-foot-4 Achterkamp, who was named the NEC Rookie of the Week.

The dramatic win kept LIU-Brooklyn unbeaten at home since last year’s regular season-ending 2-1 overtime defeat to St. Francis Brooklyn, a defeat they avenged earlier this season with a 2-1 OT triumph at BPP.

The Blackbirds have won four overtime games already this year, including a 3-2 triumph at NJIT in Newark last week that was spearheaded by reigning NEC Co-Player of the Week Fredrik Mathisen, who scored the game-tying and winning goals.

Shooting for their first NEC title and NCAA Tournament berth since 2015, Kostecky’s crew continues to emphasize the positive during this impressive streak, rather than dwelling on the upcoming end of an era here in Brooklyn.

“Change is often a good thing,” said Kostecky, now in his 20th year at LIU-Brooklyn.

“The new campus has a beautiful grass field, dedicated to only to soccer, a real nice locker room and indoor facilities that we¹ll be able to use. These amenities are certainly things to look forward to.”

Over at SFC Brooklyn, the reigning two-time defending league champions aren’t enjoying as much consistency as their neighborhood rivals, but head coach Tom Giovatto’s squad is hanging tough in the race for one of the four coveted NEC postseason spots.

The Terriers (5-8, 2-2) snapped a two-match losing streak with Sunday’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Bryant in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Senior striker Ali Tounkara produced the game’s lone tally off a feed from junior midfielder Julien Remiti in the third minute for his team-leading fourth goal of the campaign.

SFC was outshot, 15-10, by Bryant, but freshman goaltender Andrea Lubbia made five big saves for the Terriers, who pulled within a half game of the Bulldogs (2-1-1 NEC) for the fourth and final playoff spot.

“Bryant is always a difficult game. It’s even tougher playing there,” admitted Giovatto, who is chasing the school’s fifth NEC crown in the past five seasons and what would be an historic championship three-peat. 

“It was a huge three points for us,” he added. “It was a great team effort. We created a few good scoring opportunities and really did a good job defensively not giving them much.” 

The Terriers will continue defense of their championship Sunday against Fairleigh Dickinson here at Brooklyn Bridge Park before playing two of their final three regular-season contests on the road.

“We have four tough games remaining, starting with FDU on Sunday,” Giovatto told the Eagle. “We need to take one game at a time and make sure we get better every day. We need to continue to get better defensively, keep creating scoring opportunities, and do a better job finishing.”

* * * 

Also fighting for position in the CUNYAC playoff race is the Brooklyn College men’s soccer team, which played to a scoreless draw with league rival John Jay College Saturday on Randall’s Island.

Sophomore goalie Balint Barabas made 14 big saves for the Bulldogs, who improved to 3-3-1 in conference play and were slated to host Medgar Evers in their regular-season finale yesterday afternoon.

BC will begin its quest for the CUNYAC crown on Oct. 24 in the league quarterfinals.

 

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