Sharks begin NEC defense with 2-0 start
Reigning champs top visiting Stony Brook and Iona at home
After receiving a red card at the end of Long Island University’s historic run in the NCAA College Cup last year, junior forward Emil Jaaskelainen was denied the opportunity to begin this season playing alongside his teammates last week in Brookville, N.Y.
He made up for lost time in a hurry Monday afternoon in front of 165 fans at LIU Soccer Park.
Jaaskelainen scored two goals and senior goaltender Sergio Peralta made five saves as the Sharks held on for a 2-1 victory over visiting Iona to improve to 2-0 on their season-opening three-game homestand.
Missing the Sharks’ Northeast Conference championship ring ceremony and 1-0 win over Stony Brook last Thursday wasn’t easy for Jaaskelainen, who was a big reason why LIU got past Maryland before bowing out to St. Louis in the 2021 NCAAs.
He received a red card in the season finale, forcing him to serve a one-game suspension to start this year.
“It was horrible,” Jaaskelainen said of sitting out the season opening-win. “You always want to be out there playing. But the boys did very well.”
They did even better with the All-NEC First Team selection on board.
Jaaskelainen needed just under 11 minutes to make his impact felt against Iona, scoring the opening goal at the 9:54 mark off an assist from Matthias Heiland.
The Bolton, England native struck again at 10:54 with an unassisted tally before bowing to the passionate crowd.
Peralta, who made four saves in blanking Stony Brook last week, held off the Gaels (0-2) until Sergio Gonzalez beat him on a penalty kick in the 55th minute to cap the scoring.
Heiland was sent off with a red card in the 57th minute, leaving the Sharks to play down a man until Iona’s Federico Russo received his second yellow card in the 69th to level the playing field.
The Sharks got outshot by the Gaels, 19-6, but weren’t daunted by the disadvantage or the rough play, which resulted in seven cards being handed out between the clubs and 34 fouls overall.
Ben Assane Fall, who filled in for Jaaskelainen last Thursday, sat out against the Gaels after suffering an injury in the opener.
Jaaskelainen dedicated the win to his fellow striker and kept the Sharks rolling as they enter Friday’s homestand closer vs. Fordham on Alumni Day.
LIU has not started a season 3-0 since winning four straight to open the 1992 campaign.
Over at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer team shook off a season-opening 2-0 loss at UMass-Lowell last Thursday by cruising to a 3-0 blanking of LaSalle Monday in Brooklyn Heights.
Caleb Danquah, Michele Signorelli and Khaled Abdella scored for the Terriers (1-1), who also got five saves from goaltender David Santiago in his first shutout performance since Halloween.
Martin Palinic and Johan Grande-Rojas had assists for SFC, which will be back at it in Baltimore, Maryland on Friday night vs. UMBC.
On the women’s side, the Terriers (1-2-1) suffered a 3-1 loss to Iona at BPP on Sunday afternoon.
Isabelle Gollette provided the lone goal for SFC when she scored on a penalty kick in the 31st minute to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Kedarjah Lewis, who assisted on the first goal for the Gaels (2-0-2), scored in the 68th minute to reestablish a two-score lead as the Terriers failed to build on last Thursday’s 3-2 home win over Hartford.
Senior Margaret Motolese, who had two goals in last Thursday’s win over Hartford, was named the NEC Player of the Week on Monday while Gollette was named one of the league’s Prime Performers last week after scoring two of her three goals this year.
SFC will return to action this Thursday at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y.
The LIU ladies had a two-game winning streak snapped Sunday at Stony Brook as Jaylin Counts scored the lone goal and netminder Eva Katsaitis gave up three tallies after posting shutouts in each of her previous two starts.
The Sharks will be back on the pitch in Brookville Thursday afternoon vs. Vermont.
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