The LIU Post men’s soccer team won the first game of their spring exhibition at home on Thursday, March 28, against Saint Peter’s University.
When asked prior to the game about how he expected the team to perform in its first action since last year, Pioneers’ junior captain Eirik Bjorno said, “They’re beatable. Every team is beatable.”
Captain knows best because the Pioneers came away victorious beating the Peacocks 2-0.
During the spring season the men, who compete in Division II, play against Division I teams, giving them an excellent chance to improve for the upcoming campaign.
The Pioneers had a successful fall season, which ended with them winning the ECC Championship and being ranked number one in all of Division II in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. In a preseason game last August, the Pioneers also defeated the Peacocks by a final score of 6-2.
This was the team’s first game following their fall 2012 season and although the Pioneers are missing a couple of players who have graduated, it gives the younger players a chance to step up, Bjorno said.
It might be the offseason for the men, but this team plays every game like it’s the championship. Bjorno’s aggressiveness set the tone for this game, which started with tough defense for both teams.
As both teams were fighting to get into a rhythm, Pioneers’ junior forward, Cemil Turan, drove 70 yards with the ball, shot for the lower right corner, but failed to score when his shot was rebounded by the goalie. The rebound was followed through by freshman midfielder Per Forgaard, giving Post a 1-0 lead midway through the first half.
It was a back-and-forth game until the Pioneers’ freshman forward Elias Johansson scored on a cross-over during the end of the first half, giving Post a 2-0 lead. Soon after, junior goalkeeper Marco Jorgensen made three saves, two of which were consecutive, keeping the Pioneers ahead.
The second half was uneventful until Bjorno’s fierce drive and emotion came out during a scuffle that broke out after the opposing team’s sophomore center-back, Andrew Kelly, tackled him late. The air was tense, the crowd was on the edge of their seats and the referee showed both Bjorno and Kelly a red card.
According to Bjorno, the spring season is about getting better and staying fit, and there is no room for the team to accept tackles like that. “Maybe it was stupid to react that way, but we cannot accept tackles like that in a friendly game,” he said.
Overall, the Pioneers were relentless throughout and beat the Peacocks for the second time this year during an offseason game, just as their captain predicted.
“It was a solid performance but with plenty of areas that could be improved,” said Bjorno. For the rest of the season he hopes to see Johansson keep on improving and expects big things from Forgaard.
“I’m used to the pressure and I try to respond to it well,” said Forgaard, “This spring I want to work extremely hard and be the best that I can be in the fall.”
The next game for the Pioneers is against Fordham University this Saturday with a 10 a.m. kickoff at home. According to Bjorno, Fordham is one of the best teams in Division I… so it looks like the Pioneers will find out just how good they really are.