It has been a very challenging 2016 season for Berkeley College New York men's soccer team (4-9-1 Overall, 4-3-1 HVIAC), but the Knights had a very successful weekend – a weekend that saw the team clinch a berth in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. This past Saturday, Berkeley traveled up to Albany College of Pharmacy (9-4-2 Overall, 6-1-1 HVIAC) to take on the Panthers, and a valiant effort by the Knights earned Berkeley a 3-3 tie. Coincidentally, the Knights clinched a conference tournament berth the following day when Albany College of Pharmacy shutout The King's College (NY) by a score of 4-0.
"I am very proud to say that these student-athletes put forth a sensational effort against Albany College of Pharmacy this weekend," Head Coach Stavros Zomopoulos said. "September was a very difficult month for us, but this team has shown resolve in the month of October, and that says a lot. On consecutive Saturdays, we left everything out on the field against both SUNY-ESF and Albany – and because of that – we were able to earn our way into the HVIAC tournament with a chance to defend our league title from a season ago. We're all very excited."
In Saturday's conference contest against the Panthers, the Knights showed a tremendous amount of versatility as well as perseverance. In the opening session, it was Albany College of Pharmacy striking first when Zak Giorgi scored a goal (Kyle Jenkins picked up an assist on the tally) to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage in the 14th minute of play. A little over 16 minutes later – in the 30th minute – offensive standout Ali Dawha recorded a goal to tie the game at one goal apiece (Raouf Chouiref notched an assist on the score).
After neither team was able to break the tie over the opening 21 minutes of the second session, the action started to pick up. The Panthers scored two goals in a span of 68 seconds, as Nolan Keith notched a goal at 66:26 (unassisted) and Connor Laughlin (from Edward Ahanmisi at 67:34) followed it up with a tally of his town. At that juncture, things looked bleak for the Knights, as Berkeley trailed 3-1 on the road to a very established team.
The Knights – however – refused to go away. Exactly 49 seconds after Laughlin's goal, Dawha answered with a goal of his own off of a beautiful lead pass from Osondu Esonwune to slice the Panthers' edge to just one goal at 3-2. Later – with less than five minutes remaining in regulation – first-year Knight Esonwune blasted a ball into the net to even the score at three goals apiece.
Neither team would score in the consecutive overtime periods, resulting in the match ending in a tie.
The Panthers held a 28-20 edge in the shots department, while also holding a 13-3 advantage in corner kicks. The Knights committed 11 fouls on the evening compared to 10 for the Panthers. Berkeley College netminder Osvin Videz Vazquez made 13 saves in net, while his counterpart Matt Houlihan made 11 saves.
The Knights will play their final home match of the year on Wednesday afternoon, as Berkeley College will take on Valley Forge University at Aviator Field. Start-time for that match is scheduled for 4:00pm.