Terriers climb over Sharks in NEC hunt
SFC grabs first place after 2-0 shutout victory at FDU
The St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer club finally reeled in the Sharks of Long Island University last Sunday afternoon, climbing into sole possession of first place in the Northeast Conference.
The Terriers (8-4-1, 6-1 NEC) got goals from junior midfielder Badr Mesrar and high-scoring senior forward El Mahdi Youssoufi en route to a 2-0 blanking of Fairleigh Dickinson in front of 216 fans at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Coupled with LIU’s second defeat in a row following a season-high nine-game unbeaten streak, the Sharks find themselves out of first place, one game behind the Terriers, for the first time this season.
SFC has won a season-high five consecutive games and has won eight of 10 matches overall since beginning the campaign on a three-game winless skid.
Though the Terriers flashed their tenacious defensive form at BPP, the back line wasn’t able to protect reigning NEC Co-Player of the Week David Santiago from a torrent of tough shots.
Santiago faced 17 shots in all, making seven saves en route to his fifth shutout of the year.
Youssoufi’s goal was his 11th of the year and seventh during this ongoing winning streak, which the Terriers will try to continue on Sunday at Central Connecticut State.
SFC has already secured a berth in the season-ending four-team NEC Tournament for the right to reach the NCAA College Cup.
The Terriers have won five of the last eight NEC crowns, including last season, when they knocked off Milwaukee in the opening round before falling to No. 3 Indiana on penalty kicks.
LIU had an opportunity to maintain at least a share of the top spot Sunday at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
But after forging a late 2-2 tie on back-to-back goals by sophomore forward Emil Jaaskelainen, the Sharks (9-4-2, 5-2) were burned for a tally by SFU’s Piet Wesling with moments to go in regulation.
The Sharks, who scored NEC titles in 2015 and 2018, will try to end their mini-slide and jump back into the top spot Sunday at Mount St. Mary’s.
If LIU and SFC hold serve this coming weekend, the long-time neighborhood rivals will square off for the No. 1 seed in the NEC Championships on Nov. 7 in Brookville, N.Y., where the Sharks moved last year after playing their home games at LIU Field for decades.
Last season, the Sharks and Terriers battled to a scoreless draw in the regular-season finale before doing the same in the NEC title match, which SFC pulled out 6-5 on penalty kicks.
The conference championships will take place on the home field of the No. 1 seed from Nov. 12-14.
On the women’s side, the SFC managed a scoreless draw vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday morning at BPP before the men’s match.
Junior netminding sensation Klil Keshwar made six big saves for the Terriers (5-6-6, 3-3-3), who are on the outside looking in at the NEC playoff race but can finish the year with a winning record in conference play Sunday if they beat visiting Staten Island rival Wagner here at BPP.
Though they are second to last in the league standings, the LIU Sharks have been a handful for opponents of late, including Sunday in Brookville, where they suffered a tough 1-0 overtime loss to visiting Bryant on a golden goal by Katie Cronin.
It was a rough way for Senior Day celebrants Lydia Fraga Cordoba, Emily Poole, Kimmy Glasser, Taylor Curcio, Emily Tirado, Libby Dayton, Olivia Wesch, Hikari Yamada, Sarah Borer, Shab Nasary and Kelsey Wright to go out.
But the ladies will get to don their Sharks jerseys one more time Sunday at Central Connecticut State.
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