December 22, 2016
THE YEAR'S BEST -- NO. 9
St. Francis, Fordham reach NCAA Division I men's tournament but have a short stay
St. Francis Brooklyn College and Fordham University were the only local men's college teams to reach the dance in 2016 and they barely had enough time to enjoy it.
Both teams squads were eliminated in the opening round of the NCAA Division I soccer tournament, but at least they showed the wherewithal to reach the annual tournament.
The Terriers booked a spot in the competition for the third time in four years, winning their first Northeast Conference tournament. They defeated Saint Francis University (Pa.) in the championship game, 1-0.
Junior forward Lukas Hauer converted a penalty kick in the 87th minute for the deciding score.
"This is what we've been working for the whole year, this feels amazing," senior midfielder Salvatore Barone said, who also earned NEC playoff MVP honors.
In the NCAA opener at Dartmouth, the Ivy League school prevailed in extratime as Matt Danilack connected for the the game-winner in the second extra period to propel the Big Green (9-4-3) to a 1-0 win over St. Francis (12-5-3) Nov. 17.
"I thought we played a good game," St. Francis head coach Tom Giovatto said. "We didn't finish a couple of chances but we played solid defensively and I felt we frustrated them. I can't ask for anything more we represented the conference really well tonight."
Barone nearly gave the Terriers the victory with 45 seconds left in regulation after the hosts were unable to clear the ball deep in their territory. Barone found himself alone in space and fired a laser just wide of the net from 15 yards.
"I really thought Sal was going to score on that play," Giovatto said. "On another night it's a goal and we probably win the game."
Giovatto and his staff were named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Northeast Region Division I men's coaching staff of the year.
In Newton, Mass. the same day, Fordham (10-7-4) also fell by a late goal. Senior Zeiko Lewis scored his fourth goal in thr postseason in the 82nd minute to lift Boston College (10-8-3)to a 1-0 victory over the Rams. Lewis had scored all four Boston College goals this postseason, including three in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Rams goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu made a career-high 10 saves that night.
Fordham booked a spot in the NCAA's by defeating Virginia Commonwealth University in a shootout, 3-2, after playing to a scoreless draw in the Atlantic 10 championship game in Davidson, N.C.
Nuhu made three saves in the tie-breaker while Janos Loebe, Joergen Oland and Matthew Lewis converted on their chances as the Rams claimed their second conference crown in three years.
Friday: Story No. 8