Terriers face must-win situation at LIU
SFC can clinch NEC Tournament spot with victory over Sharks.
After spending the better part of this roller-coaster season checking on the results of other teams in the Northeast Conference Tournament race, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer team finally has a clear path toward returning to the playoffs.
“If we win we are in!” Terriers head coach Tom Giovatto told the Eagle this week as his team prepared for a do-or-die regular-season finale against LIU in Brookville, N.Y., on Sunday.
“We are excited about this weekend,” added Giovatto. “We know we control our on destiny.”
The Terriers (7-5-2, 3-4-1 NEC) are deadlocked with Robert Morris University (10 points apiece) for the coveted fourth and final NEC Tournament spot, but own a tiebreaker advantage over the Colonials based on their 5-0 blanking of RMU here in Brooklyn on Oct. 20.
SFC, which began the campaign with a spirited 4-1-1 run through non-conference play, opened the NEC portion of its schedule with three losses in four games, putting its postseason hopes in peril for a second consecutive year after winning four of the previous six conference titles.
But Giovatto’s squad rebounded to go 2-1-1 down the stretch against conference foes, including last Saturday’s double-overtime 1-1 tie with Sacred Heart at the Poly Prep Country Day School.
The strong finish gave SFC an opportunity, albeit against an LIU squad which has already secured its playoff spot, to knock off the recently relocated and renamed Sharks on their home pitch to reach the NEC tourney, which will kick off next Friday.
“Last year was tough not making the playoffs,” admitted Giovatto, whose squad was coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances before going an uncharacteristic 7-10 in 2018, including 4-4 against NEC foes.
“I think the guys from last year were really disappointed on how things ended last year and are excited for the opportunity they have in front of them this weekend.”
That opportunity may not have presented itself at all if standout freshman goaltender Callum James didn’t make a few clutch saves on Saturday against Sacred Heart, including a game-saver in the 102nd minute off the foot of Yoann Toko.
It marked the eighth time this season the first-year netminder yielded one goal or fewer and it would have been his fifth shutout of the year if not for a goal by the Pioneers’ Segundo Navarro in the 39th minute.
Senior defender Alexis Petit netted the lone tally for SFC seven minutes earlier off assists from junior defender Edoardo Belfanti and senior backliner Marco Torriani.
The goal was the first of Petit’s career, a fitting way to celebrate Senior Day, while Belfanti picked up his team-high fourth assist, giving him a pair of goals and three helpers in his last four matches.
Knowing that RMU had lost to LIU, 3-0, a day earlier, the Terriers’ path toward the postseason had finally been cleared once the final whistle blew on the team’s second overtime game in as many contests.
But for Giovatto and his crew, the biggest task is still ahead of them.
“We know we are playing a very tough LIU team,” he said of his former Brooklyn-based rivals, who enter the regular-season finale with a 5-2-1 mark and a chance to climb into the top spot for the conference tournament.
“We are going to be prepared and ready for the challenge.”
The SFC men’s basketball team tipped off its season with a disappointing 68-59 loss to Fordham in the Bronx on Tuesday night.
Grad student guard Unique McClean scored 14 points and junior backcourt mate Chauncey Hawkins added 13 for the Terriers (0-1), who fought the Rams (1-0) to a 30-30 deadlock at the half before running out to a 14-point second-half lead.
But Fordham, buoyed by a partisan crowd of 3,200 at Rose Hill, came storming back with a 26-10 burst, taking the lead for good on a thunderous dunk by Chuba Ohams with just over three minutes to play.
The Terriers will be back in action Saturday afternoon when they open the home portion of their schedule at Remsen Street’s Pope Center against Lafayette.
The SFC women opened their campaign with an 86-73 loss to Stony Brook in Brooklyn on Tuesday despite 21 points from senior standout Jade Johnson, who also picked up four rebounds and drained all seven of her free-throw attempts.
Freshman guard Nevena Dimitrijevic made a strong Terriers debut with 20 points and junior Ally Larsen added 15 for SFC, which was slated to travel to Wisconsin to visit Marquette on Thursday night.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment