LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer ready for last stand in the borough
Blackbirds to host FDU in NEC Semifinals at LIU Field
One way or the other, this weekend will mark the final time the LIU-Brooklyn men’s soccer team hosts games here in our fair borough.
And the Blackbirds are eager to make the most of it.
Armed with the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Conference tournament, the regular-season champions will take on fourth-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson at LIU Field, a.k.a. “The Nest,” on Friday afternoon in the semifinal round of the single-elimination playoffs.
If they can defeat the Knights, the Blackbirds will also host Sunday’s NEC Championship Game in what will be their final home game on the Brooklyn campus with the caveat of having an NCAA Tournament berth on the line.
“Winning the tourney would create even more meaningful lifetime memories
for all of us,” admitted long-time LIU head coach TJ Kostecky, who is gunning for his third NEC title since arriving on the Downtown scene back in 1999.
Having learned earlier this season that all LIU Division I programs will play their contests on the LIU-Post campus in Brookville, N.Y., beginning with the 2019-20 school year, these Blackbirds (11-5-1 overall, 6-2 NEC) are determined to extend their stay here for another two games.
“We are thrilled to win the final NEC regular season championship in the history of the Brooklyn campus and look forward to this weekend’s tournament,” added Kostecky as his team prepared for a quick turnaround rematch with FDU.
The visiting Knights (7-6-4, 4-2-2) spoiled the Blackbirds’ final regular-season contest here last Saturday afternoon, clinching their postseason spot with a 2-0 blanking of LIU, which sat many of its most important players after having secured the top overall seed.
“I’m really excited for the guys that we were able to win and qualify for the NEC Playoffs,” FDU head coach Seth Roland noted. “We knew we had shot ourselves in the foot in several earlier NEC games by not finishing our chances and by leaving points on the table. But this team never quit.
“They just kept working and working, taking it one game at a time, and persevering even when it was an uphill climb,” Roland added. “I’m very proud of them.”
But all hands will be back on deck for the Blackbirds during Friday’s showdown against a team LIU blanked 4-0 in last year’s NEC semifinals.
“LIU is a very good team and they are an extremely difficult team to play against,” Roland said following his team’s fifth shutout victory of the season Friday.
“They’re very, very talented and we will have to be even better against them on Friday in the semifinal if we want to beat them again.”
The Blackbirds are in position to keep the NEC championship here in Brooklyn for a sixth consecutive year.
St. Francis Brooklyn, which did not qualify for this year’s tournament, won four of the previous five crowns, including each of the previous two, and LIU took the title in 2015.
The Terriers were denied a shot at a three-peat when they suffered a heartbreaking, 2-1, double-overtime loss at Sacred Heart last Friday.
Though head coach Tom Giovatto’s crew bounced back with a convincing 4-0 blanking of Mount St. Mary’s here at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sunday afternoon, they finished tied for fifth in the conference race.
Next season will mark SFC’s first in Brooklyn without a neighborhood rival, though the Blackbirds will still visit the Terriers every other year.
LIU edged SFC 2-1 in overtime at BFF back on Sept. 30 in what turned out to be the last ever Battle of Brooklyn match between the long-time rivals.
Read next week’s Eagle sports pages for a full recap of this weekend’s NEC Tournament.
Over on Remsen Street Wednesday night, freshman Stevan Krtinic scored a game-high 14 points and sophomore guard Jalen Jordan added 14 points, a career-best eight rebounds and three assists as the SFC Brooklyn men’s basketball team cruised to a season-opening 92-42 rout of Division III Medgar Evers.
Graduate student Glenn Sanabria added 14 points and a career-high three blocked shots for the Terriers (1-0), who helped head coach Glenn Braica record his 116th career win at the helm, good for third-best on the school’s all-time list.
SFC will hit the road this weekend for a showdown with Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on Sunday at 1 p.m.