By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
There's nothing quite like a strong start, except, of course, for a great finish.
The Brooklyn College men's soccer team learned that lesson the hard way last Saturday night at Randall's Island Field, running out to an early two-goal lead before suffering a tough 4-2 loss to top-seeded Baruch College in the City University of New York Athletic Conference Soccer Championship Game.
“We scored two goals very early on; however, I knew it was going to be a long game and we would need to do more to win the match,” said BC's Rawle Hensford, who was named the CUNYAC Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 13-5-2 record, which earned them a berth in this week's Eastern College Athletic Conference playoffs.
“We had more opportunities to go up by three and even to go ahead 3-2 (after Baruch tied it), but we failed to take those opportunities and made some costly mistakes," added Hensford, who watched BC take a 2-0 lead on a pair of tallies from junior Peterson Petit-Frere in the opening stages of the first half. "I give Baruch a lot of credit; they worked hard and got the results. I wish them well in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Bulldogs appeared well on their way to a ninth straight victory after Frere scored off a free kick, with an assist from fellow third-year man Peter Vavalle, in the third minute. But the Bearcats would go on to knock in the next four goals, and BC was never able to respond, ending any hopes of carrying the CUNYAC banner into the Division III NCAA Tournament.
BC had precious little time to lick its wounds as it found out Monday that it would be part of the eight-team ECAC Tournament field, kicking off with a Thursday evening showdown against New Jersey City University at Brooklyn College Field.
Along with having the CUNYAC Coach of the Year, the Bulldogs accounted for six of the 11 First-Team All-Star members from the league, as goalkeeper Stamatis Boundouris, a product of Bay Ridge's Xaverian High School, was joined by teammates Peter Vavalle, Denton Laing, Alwyn Adams, Dmitry Prokorfyev and forward Pajtim Gjonbalaj on the prestigious squad.
“I am very honored and thankful that my fellow coaches found me worthy of such an award,” said Hensford. “This award is not mine alone, as I see this as a testimony to the hard work of my student-athletes and my assistant coach Roger Sandy."
In other local college sports new, LIU-Brooklyn senior forward Julian Boyd, the reigning Northeast Conference Player of the Year, on Monday was named to the Lou Henson Preseason All-American Team by CollegeInsider.com. The San Antonio native, who was one of four LIU players suspended for the team's first two NEC games this year due to his part in an on-campus altercation back in September, earned the distinction for the second consecutive season, making him one of only four players in the entire nation to receive back-to-back selections.
Boyd averaged career bests of 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season en route to leading the Blackbirds to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in the Downtown Brooklyn program's history.
The three other players who earned Preseason Mid-Major All-America honors for the second straight year were Indiana State's Jake Odum, George Mason's Ryan Pearson and Augustine Rubit of South Alabama. In addition to Boyd, Shane Gibson of Sacred Heart and Velton Jones of Robert Morris represented the NEC on the team.
The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the top Mid-Major player in Division I college basketball. The award is named in honor of Lou Henson who retired after a spectacular coaching career that lasted 41 years. He is one of only 12 coaches in the history of the game to take two schools to the Final Four.
Boyd and the Blackbirds will begin their quest for a third consecutive trip to the Big Dance on Friday evening, when they host visiting Morehead State at the Barclays Center. LIU has won 27 straight home games -- all in the friendly confines of the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center.
“[Boyd's] improved every year," New Blackbirds coach Jack Perri said of Boyd at last month's NEC Preseason Media Day at the Barclays.."He’s expanded his game. He can really run the floor and drive to the basket, and now he’s shooting 3s at a 40 percent clip."
The Terriers, who dropped a pair of 9-8 decisions to Brown before absorbing a humbling 14-9 defeat against the Bears in the third meeting, trailed 6-4 entering the final quarter Sunday, but Bosko Stankovic scored three of his four goals in the final frame, including the match winner with only 1:40 to play, as St. Francis captured the 2012 Northern Division Championship.
"It was a good overall defensive effort and great run in the last quarter," said Terriers head coach Igor Samardzija, who is prepping his team for the upcoming Eastern Championships at Princeton from Nov.l 16-18. "I am pleased with the character this team has shown as we managed to win the game after trailing by two for the most part of the second half. This win puts us in a better position going into Easterns yet we need to make sure to take it one game at a time and not overlook our first opponent."
Brown, MIT and Harvard all qualified for the Eastern Championships, which will see St. Francis take on Navy in the opening round. If the Terriers make it through the field, they will earn their third Final Four berth since 2005 and second in three seasons under Samardzija, who took the program over from founding father Carl Quigley.