St. Francis Brooklyn hosts Red Flash for top spot in North Atlantic poll
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Unbeaten in their brand new digs at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the second-ranked St. Francis Brooklyn men's soccer squad will have an opportunity to grab the top spot in the NCAA Division I North Atlantic Regional Poll on Friday night when it hosts No. 1 St. Francis, Pa.
And coach Tom Giovatto doesn’t even have to dangle that carrot in front of his red-hot team to get them ready for their biggest match of the season.
“It’s funny. You really don’t have to talk to the guys, they know all about it,” Giovatto told the Eagle from his offices at the school Thursday afternoon. “They’re hungry, they’re playing great and really excited about it.”
The Terriers (7-2-1 overall, 1-0-0 Northeast Conference) extended their season-high unbeaten streak to seven games last Friday night with a 1-0 blanking of NEC rival Sacred Heart at the sparkling new facility beneath the world's most famous crossing.
Senior forward Gabriel Bagot banged home a rebound off a shot from reigning NEC Rookie of the Year Kevin Correa in the 24th minute and junior goaltender Jack Binks continued to stifle the opposition with three saves for his fourth consecutive shutout as SFC Brooklyn improved to 2-0-1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park and 6-0-1 in its last seven matches.
"I think the defense has played incredible," said Binks, who has not yielded a goal since a 43rd-minute tally in a 3-1 victory over Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y., on Sept. 22.
"The guys I have in front of me have been amazing for me,” he added. “I think we can attest our success to being a close-knit team, both on and off the field."
Bagot's big goal was his sixth of the year and 23rd of his career at the Remsen Street school, ranking him 10th all-time on the Terriers' list.
He has combined with Correa, just a sophomore, to register 28 goals, 16 assists and 70 points over the past two campaigns, giving St. Francis one of the most lethal scoring tandems in the region.
"I was able to trail the play and locate the loose ball and score the goal," Bagot said of the game-winner. "Everyone has played incredibly well. Our defense has put forth an amazing effort and we have finished our scoring chances."
Knowing that this will be the final year the dynamic duo plays together, Giovatto realizes the importance of cashing in on what may be the Terriers’ best chance to grab an NEC title and some national recognition for the program.
“Every year you never know what’s going to happen,” he noted. “Anytime you have a chance to win you have to take advantage of it. We have two great goal-scorers and a great team all-around.”
The visiting Red Flash (8-2-3, 1-0-1 NEC) will enter Brooklyn Bridge Park after a history-making 1-0 win over league rival Bryant on Sunday in Loretto, Pa.
Senior netminder Daniel Valcicak recorded his fifth shutout of the season and his 18th overall for St. Francis, Pa., placing him atop the school's all-time rankings.
The 2012 All-NEC selection has yielded only six goals while stopping 122 shots thus far in 2013.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night.
While the Terriers look to extend their unbeaten run this weekend, the defending NEC champion LIU-Brooklyn women's volleyball team will have to begin a new one.
Coach Kyle Robinson's unit had an 18-match home winning streak snapped Wednesday night with a straight-set (25-23, 25-20, 25-20) loss to visiting Seton Hall at Brooklyn's Steinberg Center.
The defeat dropped the Blackbirds to 13-7 overall, but they maintain a perfect 6-0 mark in NEC play heading into Saturday afternoon's Downtown showdown with visiting St. Francis Brooklyn.
Sophomore Tamara Ignjic led LIU with 13 kills and nine digs and junior Mia Radisic added seven kills and nine digs for the Blackbirds, who had won six consecutive matches since a 3-1 loss to Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., on Sept. 21 during the Nike Invitational.
With Aviator Field unavailable due to the then-ongoing government shutdown, the Brooklyn College women’s team had its game with St. Joseph's of Brooklyn relocated to BC Field on Wednesday afternoon.
The Lady Bulldogs couldn't have minded much.
Junior star and Brooklyn native Shani Abrahams and freshman sensation Jordan Kerwin each tallied twice as BC improved to a perfect 7-0 at home this season and won its third consecutive match with a 6-1 rout of the Lady Bears.
Senior Karolina Gorna played 82 strong minutes in net, helping the Bulldogs improve to 10-1 overall.
BC will look for its eighth consecutive home win Saturday at high noon against visiting John Jay College.
The BC men's soccer club was in Throggs Neck, N.Y., on Wednesday, cruising to a 2-0 triumph over Maritime College.
Senior Dmitry Prokofyev, the reigning CUNYAC Player of the Week, and freshman Kenny Benitez, an alum of Brooklyn's Leon M. Goldstein High School, scored for the Bulldogs, who improved to 9-5 on the campaign.
BC will also be back in action Saturday at the College of Staten Island.
Following a grueling six-match losing streak in which they were outscored by a combined 13-0, the defending two-time NEC champion women's soccer club from LIU-Brooklyn finally got off the schneid with last Saturday's 1-0 victory at Central Connecticut State.
“I thought we had won the NEC championship by the time that we scored,” Blackbirds coach Tracey Bartholomew told the Eagle on Thursday afternoon from her offices at the Downtown school. “It had been a long time coming.”
Senior Jessica Sexton stopped six shots, including four in the second half, as the Blackbirds (3-9-1, 1-2-0 NEC) held for their first win since a 5-1 victory over St. Peter's on Sept. 13.
The lone goal for LIU came on a fortunate bounce off a CCSU defender following a throw-in by junior Allison King early in the opening half.
“At that point I didn’t care how it goes in as long as it goes in. We felt like we couldn’t even buy a goal,” Bartholomew noted. “It was huge to get something that early [in the game] to help with the confidence. Our defense played extremely hard to keep Central off of the board. It boosted the spirits of everyone.”
The Blackbirds who are still in the hunt for a third straight NEC crown, hope to build on the momentum of their first win in a month when they visit NEC rival Wagner on Friday night in Staten Island.
“You have to do everything you can to stay afloat in the conference,” the 14th-year coach added. “It gives us confidence and makes this week going to classes and coming to practice even nicer.”
The LIU men rode a modest two-game win streak into their conference opener at CCSU last Friday before suffering a 2-0 loss in New Britain, Conn.
Coach TJ Kostecky's team, which is 3-7-1 overall this year, will host NEC rival Robert Morris at LIU Field on Friday evening at 6 p.m.
The 14th-ranked St. Francis men's water polo squad, eager to make a push for its second straight trip to the NCAA Final Four, had to come from behind for Wednesday night's thrilling 12-11 win over regional rival Iona in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Down 4-0 early, the Terriers, led by freshman Llija Djuteric's team-high four goals, outscored the Gaels 12-4 the rest of the way to improve 12-8 this season.
St. Francis will visit Fordham on Monday in search of its first two-match winning streak since reeling off three in a row from Sept. 22-Oct. 6.
LIU sophomore golfer Marisol Doglioli shot a one-under 71 in Piscataway, N.J., on Tuesday afternoon to take second place overall at the Rutgers Invitational. The native of Aosta, Italy helped the Blackbirds finish just one stroke behind St. John's for third place in the tournament.
On the local high school soccer scene, freshman Halima Matthews continued her record-setting season with three goals in Brooklyn Friends' 3-1 victory over previously unbeaten Staten Island Academy on Wednesday.
Matthews has registered an astounding 27 goals in only 10 games this seaon, helping BFS to a sparkling 8-0-3 record as the Blue Pride continues its push toward its first-ever state tournament invite.
Dating to last season, coach Gary Lawson's unit is unbeaten in its last 23 games.