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Terriers eager to bounce back in 2019

SFC Brooklyn soccer squad looks to reclaim NEC throne

July 12, 2019 JT Torenli
Returning defender Yoann Assoumin and the rest of the SFC Brooklyn Terriers will be out to reclaim the NEC throne in 2019 after falling short of the conference tournament last season. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics

For a program that had won back-to-back Northeast Conference championships and four titles over the previous five years, the 2018 campaign was a sobering experience for the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer team.

Not only did Head Coach Tom Giovatto’s previously dynastic squad fail to finish with a winning record last year, going 7-10 overall and 4-4 in league action, but it also fell short of reaching the NEC Tournament while watching helplessly as archrival LIU-Brooklyn took the crown and went on to the NCAAs.

While the team once known as the Blackbirds, now called the Sharks, has left Downtown Brooklyn for the suburbs, playing all of its home games at the LIU campus in Brookville, N.Y., the Terriers are left to defend our borough’s turf in the NEC all by themselves.

And Giovatto, for one, believes it will be just as tough to keep the NEC title here in Brooklyn with, or without, a natural neighborhood rival.

“The league is going to be tough, as always,” Giovatto said after the Terriers released their complete schedule for the upcoming 2019 campaign.

“Ever since I have been in this league, every game has been decided by a goal, and there are no easy games. It is going to be tough as always.”

Giovatto wouldn’t have it any other way, putting together what he called a “pretty tough schedule” consisting of 15 games, including six non-conference affairs and nine NEC contests.

And yes, there will be a showdown with LIU in the regular-season finale on Nov. 10, but it won’t be at the Terriers’ home field at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Instead, it will be played at the Sharks’ new home pitch on Long Island.

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“We feel it is a pretty strong [non-conference] schedule; it can get us prepared for conference play,” noted Giovatto, whose title-hungry unit will kick off play here on Pier 5 on Aug. 30 against Stony Brook.

“We are playing some good teams. We start the season off with Stony Brook, and they had a great year in 2018,” added Giovatto. “I think they are going to have an even better year this year, so it is going to be an excellent way to test ourselves out of the gate.”

The visiting Seawolves will be the first of three straight visitors to BPP. The Terriers will host LaSalle on Sept. 3 and Lafayette on Sept. 7 prior to hitting the road for a Sept. 14 showdown at St. Peter’s in Jersey City before getting out of the tri-state area on Sept. 17 vs. Howard in our nation’s capital.

A Sept. 21 visit from Manhattan College on the field at the Poly Prep Country Day School in Bay Ridge will wrap up the non-conference slate and propel the Terriers into the games that will ultimately decide whether they become kings of the NEC again.

“The teams on our non-conference schedule are all skilled, hard-working teams, very similar to the ones that we play in the Northeast Conference,” Giovatto, entering his 12th season at the Remsen Street school, noted.

“We try to mirror the teams that we play in the conference when scheduling non-conference games. We do this to prepare for the conference portion of our schedule, and I think we did a pretty good job of that with some good teams in the non-conference schedule.”

NEC play gets started on Sept. 27 with a visit to Central Connecticut in New Britain, Connecticut before the Terriers play host to Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) here two days later.

SFC will host its second three-match home stand of the season here from Oct. 13-20, taking on the likes of new NEC member Merrimack, Bryant at Poly Prep and Robert Morris back at BPP.

“With Merrimack coming in now, they are a great program and have done well on the Division II level,” Giovatto said of the Warriors, who earned five NCAA Division II Tournament bids over the past seven seasons before jumping into Division I.

“Their facilities are fantastic; I think that they are going to come in and have a significant impact just as Bryant did when they came into the NEC. I think they are very similar to Bryant; it is going to be another tough team in our conference, and we are excited to play them.”

The 2019 finale in Brookville will have an odd feel to it as it will mark the first time the squads have met outside of Brooklyn in a non-tournament setting, and the beginning of new LIU Head Coach Michael Mordocco’s tenure in the rivalry.

Giovatto does have some solid returning talent in place to knock off the reigning champions as All-NEC selections Julien Remiti, Anthony Gimenes and Yoann Assoumin are all expected to be back.

“We are very excited to see how they will lead us,” Giovatto noted.

The NEC Tournament will be held from Nov. 15-17 at the home of the highest seeded team in conference play.

Each of the last four NEC championships have been held here in Brooklyn, either at BBP or LIU Field.

Now, our borough has only one team in the hunt going forward.

But it happens to be one that has won more championships over the past decade than any other.

New head coach Justine Lombardi has been waiting all year to lead the SFC Brooklyn women’s soccer squad onto the pitch at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Aug. 22 for the program’s inaugural match. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics
New head coach Justine Lombardi has been waiting all year to lead the SFC Brooklyn women’s soccer squad onto the pitch at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Aug. 22 for the program’s inaugural match. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics

Also making news out of SFC Brooklyn, the school revealed its first-ever women’s soccer schedule this week on the heels of the U.S. Women’s National Team capturing its second consecutive World Cup title in Paris.

The Terriers will play the first official women’s soccer match in SFC history on Aug. 22 at BBP vs. Lafayette, ending a long wait for head coach and program founder Justine Lombardi, who spent the past year building the team from scratch after serving as an assistant for six years at her alma mater, Quinnipiac.

“Not having a soccer season this past year for me, has made it even more exciting to get started,” Lombardi said.

“I can’t put it into words how excited we are and the ladies are really excited too.”

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