LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer works on starting new streak
Nine-game run ends with heartbreaking last-Second loss at SFU
The LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer squad, playing out its final year here in our fair borough, saw its season-high nine-game winning streak come to an end in dramatic fashion on a prematurely wintry Sunday in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
Knotted in a scoreless deadlock with snow falling and only seconds remaining in regulation, the Blackbirds surrendered the game’s lone goal just before time expired in a 1-0 defeat to Northeast Conference rival St. Francis University.
Lucas Canineau’s blast from 25 feet out eluded Blackbirds freshman goalkeeper Sam Ilin with only two seconds to go before overtime, leaving LIU-Brooklyn (10-4-1 overall, 5-1 NEC) with an unfamiliar feeling.
The Blackbirds hadn’t lost a single match since Sept. 7 against San Diego State in California and were not held scoreless since Sept. 2 at the University of Vermont.
Long-time LIU head coach TJ Kostecky, enjoying a brilliant campaign in his 20th season at the Downtown school, lamented the end of his team’s breathtaking run, which saw the Blackbirds outscore their previous nine opponents, including five straight in conference play, by an aggregate score of 20-8.
Despite getting nine shots off against SFU goalie Alex Morgret, only two of which were on net, the Blackbirds failed to penetrate the Red Flash defense or manage to force overtime, where they boast an impressive 4-0-1 record this year.
“SFPA is a top defensive team, who we were unable to break down,” admitted Kostecky, who found out earlier this month that the Blackbirds’ soccer squad would play its games on the LIU-Post campus in Brookville, N.Y., beginning next year.
Junior forward Anthony Baltazar, sophomore midfielder Daniel Quiros Herrero and junior defender Marius Koss each had chances to give the Blackbirds the lead during a furious second-half push, but it simply wasn’t enough for the first time in more than six weeks.
“My hat’s off to their amazing winning goal,” Kostecky added. “We’ve scored some special goals this year and yesterday was someone else’s turn.”
The Blackbirds remained atop the NEC table with 15 points following the rare loss, but the Red Flash upped their season total to 14 after improving to 4-0-2 in conference play.
LIU will try to bounce back Sunday in Smithfield, Rhode Island when it visits NEC rival Bryant (3-1-2, 11 points), which is also battling for playoff position in the ongoing league race.
“Time for us to start a new streak!” Kostecky said.
After being on the outside looking in at the NEC playoff picture for the past several weeks, the reigning two-time league champion St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers finally climbed back into the thick of the race on Sunday.
Sophomore defender Yoann Assoumin broke a scoreless tie in the 87th minute and senior forward Ali Tounkara added his team-high fifth goal of the year moments later as the Terriers blanked Fairleigh Dickinson, 2-0, at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
By posting their second straight shutout win and fifth clean sheet of the season, the Terriers climbed to 3-2 in NEC action, giving them the inside track to the fourth and final postseason spot with nine points.
Freshman goalie Andrea Lubbia made three big saves for SFC, which can nail down a return trip to the NEC Tournament by winning its final three regular-season contests, beginning with Sunday’s visit to SFU.
The Terriers, who lost the always-heated Battle of Brooklyn match to the Blackbirds at BBP on Sept. 30, can also do LIU a huge favor by besting the Red Flash.
But getting back into the playoffs is the top priority for a squad that has reached the NCAA Regionals in four of the past five seasons.
One local soccer program which has already clinched a playoff spot is the Bulldogs of Brooklyn College, who will meet fourth-seeded John Jay College in the CUNYAC Quarterfinals on Wednesday at Randall’s Island.
The Bulldogs secured their berth by getting three goals in the final five minutes of a 3-0 victory over Medgar Evers at Brooklyn College Field on Oct. 17. They finished 4-3-1 in league play, giving them the fifth seed in the six-team field.
With a win over John Jay, BC will advance to Saturday’s CUNYAC Semifinals on its home field.
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