SFC, LIU battling for NEC supremacy
Long-time Brooklyn soccer rivals deadlocked for first place
Same as it ever was.
Or, at the very least the same as it’s been over the past decade.
Combined winners of seven of the past eight Northeast Conference men’s soccer championships, the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers and Long Island University Sharks are battling for the top spot in the league yet again.
With Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Fairleigh Dickinson, the previously streaking Sharks (9-3-2, 5-1 NEC) stumbled back into a deadlock with Downtown rival SFC (7-4-1, 5-1 NEC) for first place in the conference standings as the former neighborhood foes head for the stretch run.
The Sharks had reeled off six consecutive wins and remained unbeaten in nine in a row before FDU’s Alberto Herranz Lopez and Diego Arribas beat LIU netminder Demetri Skoumbakis in the sixth and 57th minutes, respectively.
It was LIU’s first loss of any kind since Sept. 8, when the Sharks dropped a 1-0 decision to Hofstra in Brookville, N.Y.
The Terriers made sure to take full advantage of the Sharks’ first conference loss, rolling to a 3-1 triumph over visiting Saint Francis University (Pa.) on Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
El Mahdi Youssoufi celebrated Senior Day with a pair of goals and fellow fourth-year forward Harald Sollund added another as SFC improved to 5-1 in its last six contests with its season-high fourth consecutive victory.
SFC, which got five big saves from goalie David Santiago, will have a big test next Sunday as it FDU (4-0-2) in Teaneck, N.J., with a potential playoff spot and postseason seeding on the line.
Head coach Tom Giovatto’s program has captured five of the past eight NEC crowns, including earlier this year when the Terriers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and nearly upended No. 3 Indiana before falling in the shootout round.
The Sharks, formerly known as Brooklyn’s Blackbirds, captured the NEC title in 2015 and 2018.
Last year, the two squared off in a double-overtime, penalty-kick thriller, which the Terriers pulled out for the championship here at BPP.
Though the Sharks must still visit SFU on Sunday and Mount St. Mary’s on Halloween, both they and the Terriers are doubtlessly locked in on their regular season-ending Nov. 7 showdown in Brookville.
The Terriers found a way to squeeze out a tie with LIU in April in the finale before the teams warred for another 120 minutes in the NEC Championship Match, which SFC took 6-5 on PKs.
How it will turn out this year is still anyone’s guess.
But if preseason predictions are any indicator, the Sharks and Terriers are both living up to expectations and appear to be on a collision course for conference supremacy yet again.
Same as it’s been since 2013.
In local pro sports news, NBA commissioner Adam Silver weighed in on Nets guard Kyrie Irving’s ongoing non-vaccinated status Monday.
Irving, who needs to take at least one shot before being eligible to practice or play alongside his teammates in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles this season, has already been told by the organization that he won’t participate in road games either this year until he complies.
“This is between Irving and New York City right now,” Silver said. “This is not a league issue … but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated.”
The Nets, spearheaded by Kevin Durant and James Harden, are favorites to win the Eastern Conference title and perhaps even the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship later this year.
Irving broke his previous silence on the subject last week, indicating that he is sticking up for those who lost their jobs for not taking a vaccine shot.
Brooklyn was scheduled to open the much-anticipated 2021-22 campaign Tuesday night in Milwaukee vs. the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
As of Monday night, Irving was still holding firm and the Nets were still moving right along without him.
“We’ll see how it plays out. I mean, frankly I hope that Kyrie sort of — despite how strongly he feels about the vaccination — ultimately decides to get vaccinated,” noted Silver.
“Because I’d love to see him play basketball this season, and I’d love to see the Brooklyn Nets have their full complement of players on the floor.”
The Nets will move on to play Philadelphia on Friday before hosting Charlotte at Barclays Center on Friday for their home opener.
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