Brooklyn Boro

Terriers sink Sharks, headed to NEC semis

Survive third straight penalty-kick shootout with LIU

November 9, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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One thing Brooklynites have come to rely on for most of this past decade is that either Long Island University or St. Francis College will represent our borough in the NCAA College Cup.

Entering the semifinal round of the Northeast Conference Tournament, only the Terriers, winners of six of the last 10 NEC titles, still have a chance to do so.

SFC netminder Alec McLachlan scored the game-winning penalty during the third straight postseason shootout between the Brooklyn rivals and even stopped Robert Winkler’s attempt at the equalizer Sunday, thrusting the Terriers into Thursday night’s semifinal showdown at Merrimack.

With 212 fans on hand at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Sharks and Terriers renewed their rivalry just three days after SFC blanked LIU, 1-0, in BPP to set up Sunday’s quarterfinal.

Badr Mesrar’s first-half goal for the Terriers (8-4-5, 4-1-4 NEC) was countered by newly minted NEC Player of the Year Emil Jaaskelainen’s 12th of the campaign for the Sharks (9-6-2, 3-4-2) in the second half to force the extra session.

Neither team managed a tally over the course of the two overtimes, leaving both squads to negotiate a thrilling shootout that saw SFC come away victorious when McLachlan came out of his own net to beat LIU goalie Gianluca Cersosimo and then thwart Winkler for the narrow 6-5 win.

Two years ago, the Terriers also edged LIU in a thrilling shootout before beating Milwaukee in the opening round of the NCAAs. They eventually fell to No. 3 Indiana in the second round.

LIU striker Emil Jaaskelainen was named the NEC Player of the Year Monday after leading the conference in scoring for two straight seasons. Photo courtesy of LIU Athletics

The Sharks bested SFC in last year’s shootout before shocking Maryland in the College Cup. LIU fell to Saint Louis in round two after securing their third NEC crown in the past decade.

Now, the Terriers are on the hook to deliver an NCAA berth for one of these schools for the 10th time in the past 11 years.

They’ll have to go through Merrimack in Andover, Massachusetts, where they battled to a 1-1 draw on Oct. 9.

The second-seeded Warriors (8-6-2, 5-2-1) and No. 5 seed Terriers will both ride three-match winning streaks into the semifinal round, but SFC has the experience of playing these win or go home games.

The Terriers were ranked second in the NEC preseason coaches’ poll and have already knocked off the defending champion and top-ranked Sharks.

But advancing to the NCAAs is always the goal at SFC, which hasn’t grabbed a berth since the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.

The Sharks can lick their wounds until next season, but Jaaskelainen, who put up 15 goals last year, can at least know that he was deemed the best player in the conference after leading the conference in scoring for the second straight year.

At one point this season, the Bolton, England native had tallied in eight consecutive games, helping LIU to a 7-0-1 mark during that historic stretch.

But the Sharks went 0-5 thereafter with Jaaskelainen remaining scoreless until his tying tally in the 80th minute Sunday.


Jacob Johnson and the LIU Sharks were unable to get new head coach Rod Strickland a win in his debut at the helm Monday night in Utah. Photo courtesy of LIU Athletics

In other local college sports news, the Rod Strickland head-coaching era at LIU kicked off with an 89-48 loss at Utah on Monday night.

Tre Wood scored 11 points and Cheikh Ndiaye added 10 for the Sharks, who will host Mount St. Vincent next Monday night at Downtown’s Steinberg Wellness Center.

The Terriers began their campaign with an impressive 96-56 rout of Mount St. Mary’s (NY) on Remsen Street behind 24 points from Zion Bethea.

SFC will be at Minnesota Friday night to start a two-game stint through the state, including Sunday’s game at St. Thomas.

On the ladies’ side, the Terriers stomped visiting College at Old Westbury, 81-15, on Monday afternoon.

The LIU ladies defeated Ohio, 74-67, on Monday night to kick off their campaign.

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