By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Going into the summer, the St. Francis Terriers knew that they had a lot of work ahead of them in defending their Northeast Conference championship title because they were losing key player Gabriel Bagot and 10 other seniors. The team’s challenge only intensified in early August when it learned it also had to replace its leading goal scorer, Kevin Correa.
"That was quite a shock hearing that Kevin transferred," Terriers head coach Tom Giovatto admitted. "We had heard the rumors, but it was a shock when it was finalized. It's obviously not what we wanted, but it's his choice. He made his decision for whatever reason, and we just have to keep moving on."
It's hard to overstate Correa's impact on the Terriers. He led the team with 13 goals and had six assists. His 1.68 points per game were fifth in the entire NCAA and he had the ninth most total goals in the nation. In the playoffs, Correa lifted the team with four goals in two games. For all of his efforts, he was named to the NCAA Division-I Men's All-American Third Team.
That’s what happens in college sports, though — players move on. So Giovatto and the Terriers must do what they can to prepare for the future. Despite the hurdles, they still like the team they have.
“It's our job to constantly try to find and develop talent,” Giovatto said. “Even if Kevin hadn't left the team, he could have gotten hurt and missed the entire season, so you have to always be sure that you are ready with somebody else to step in.”
The Terriers were an offensive-powered team last season, but without Correa and Bagot, the players will be forced to be more defensive-minded, as that is where the bulk of their leadership remains.
“We have 80 percent of our defenders returning from last year, as well as the core of our midfielders,” said team captain Andy Cormack, who scored the game-winning goal in the NEC finals against Bryant. “I believe that the mix of veterans and our rooks will fuel our passion and put us in great standing for the new season.”
Goalkeeper Jack Binks is included in that defensive core and will play a huge role in maintaining the Terriers’ perch above the NEC.
“I thought he was one of the best goalkeepers in the conference last year. He might not have gotten the award, but that's what I felt,” Giovatto said. “[Binks] was a big reason we made it to the playoffs and actually won. Hopefully, he has that hunger and can lead us again.”
To pick up the offense, the Terriers will rely heavily on Harry Odell, Cyril Coisne, Fabian Suele and Nyle Patell. Three of those players got significant minutes as underclassmen last year, but will be relied upon to play key roles this season.
“To be honest, Harry was the biggest part of that Bryant game in the final,” Giovatto said. “We moved him into the center midfield at halftime and he completely changed the whole game. So Harry will be a bigger player for us, Cyril has been good the last couple of years, and we think Suele and Nyle are very talented players that will play a lot more this season.”
Of course, with 12 players leaving, there will be re-enforcements as well. The freshman class includes five New York City natives, with three players from Brooklyn, and a few who could make an impact right away.
"We have brought in some real talent this year,” Cormack said. “I believe John Makaya is going to do great things here at St. Francis. He has a lot of pace and works tirelessly, which is a nightmare for defenders. Also, Vincent Bezecourt has impressed me in the short time he has been with us. He shows good vision and has a great touch on the ball."
The Terriers open their season on Friday in Philadelphia against St. Joseph's University. They will be back in Brooklyn for the first time when they host Manhattan College at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Be sure to follow along with their season in the the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, as well as online at BrooklynEagleSports.com.