By Michael Otero
On Thursday, Nov. 6, the second-seeded men’s soccer team (14- 4-1) squared off against the third-seeded Dowling College Lions (10-6-2) in the East Coast Conference semifinals in Brookville, N.Y. The Pioneers, powered by four goals in the second half, blew past the Lions and won by a score of 4-1.
Although the Pioneers were trailing 1-0 at intermission, they controlled most of the action in the first half, outshooting their opponents and holding the advantage in corner kicks. Less than five minutes into the second half, junior midfielder Per Forgaard was able to beat junior goalkeeper Chris Friedl to even up the match at one.
In the 61st minute, the Pioneers took control of the game, as sophomore back Johannes Forgaard gave the Green and Gold a lead they would not relinquish. The sophomore was able to put back a rebound off the Lion goalie to give his squad the upper hand. Up 2-1 in the 69th minute, Per Forgaard notched his second goal of the match. This time, he dribbled his way around two defenders and fired a shot that found the back of the net. The goal gave the Pioneers a commanding 3-1 lead.
Later in the match, sophomore midfielder Maxime Devillaz added a goal for good measure and pushed the Pioneer advantage to 4-1. With the victory, the Pioneers punched their ticket to the East Coast Conference final.
The Pioneers returned to action on Saturday, Nov. 8, when they took on the NYIT Bears (14-2-1) in the ECC Championship match from Old Westbury, N.Y. The Nationally no. 22 ranked Pioneers suffered a 1-0 loss—the team’s first in over a month.
One tally is all it took to decide a winner, and that score came in the third minute of the match. Senior back Javier Gallardo was able to beat junior keeper Jesper Malmstrom. One of the better opportunities for LIU to score on the afternoon came in the 89th minute. With a corner kick at their disposal, the Pioneers sent a pass to the box and a header by graduate back Seb Baxter went wide of the net.
The Pioneers outshot the Bears 14-9 and held a significant advantage in corner kicks, but the Bears made the most out of their opportunities and came away with the hard-fought victory. Head Coach Andreas Lindberg and the Pioneers will travel to Southern New Hampshire on Thursday, Nov. 13, for the first round of the Nationals, starting off the weekend with yet another face-off against NYIT. Kick-off time TBA.