By Michael Otero
Coming off a thrilling 1-0 victory over NYIT, men’s soccer took any drama out of its match against St. Thomas Aquinas College on Thursday, Nov. 3. The team netted five first half goals, eight altogether, in its East Coast Conference semifinal on home ground.
In the first eighteen minutes and change, the Pioneers scored four goals. The opening goal came just four minutes into the contest from senior forward, Jason Lampkin. Ten minutes later freshman forward, Michael Sutton, doubled the Pioneer advantage off a precision pass from sophomore midfielder, Charlie Ledula.
Ledula wasn’t finished there either; he put the finishing touches on the next set of goals coming 70 seconds apart from each other to put the Pioneers up 4-0.
At the half, the Pioneers led 5-0 thanks to the first of two goals on the day from freshman forward, Gianluca Santacruz. In the second half, the host continued its relentless attack, adding three goals. After Santacruz’s second tally, individual marks from senior forward Sean Collins and Alex Ostby rounded out the scoring. The Pioneers outshot St. Thomas by a 22-9 margin, leading to the lopsided scoreboard.
Because it ousted St. Thomas, LIU advanced to the ECC Championship on Saturday, Nov. 5, against Molloy College. Once again, the Pioneers came out victorious, winning 3-0 and claiming the ECC crown for the second straight year with a historic regular season record, 17-0-1.
Like its match against St. Thomas, the team got going early and got on the board with a goal in the ninth minute thanks to a lucky bounce off a Molloy defender and into the goal. The Pioneers offense scraped together the initial tally and held Molloy off the board for the first 45 minutes.
The defense was effective in limiting the opposition to only one shot on goal in the first half, and an additional one in the second half.
The middle of the three tallies came via Lampkin, who scored his second in as many games, and the final goal came courtesy of sophomore back, Nicolai Kjaer Andersen, off a pass from junior midfielder, Harry Pearse.
“We have to keep looking at each game as it comes. It’s knock-out soccer, and we need to play every game like it’s our last,” said senior forward, Sean Collins. “Our season is do or die every game now but it’s very important to focus on one game at a time.”
The Pioneers won the East Coast conference and earned a bye in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament. The team will play the winner of the matchup between Franklin Pierce University and Merrimack College on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. at the Pioneer Soccer Park.