Despite an incredible, hearty effort by the Berkeley College New York soccer team, the Knights suffered a defeat on Wednesday afternoon, falling to the Pioneers of Utica College by a score of 4-3 at Gaetano Stadium in Utica, NY. With the loss, Berkeley falls to 8-5-1 on the 2019 campaign, while the Pioneers improved to 9-2-2 with the dramatic victory.
In what has been a repeated occurrence during this 2019 campaign, the Knights gave another quality team all it could handle. Utica College, which is in first place in the competitive Empire 8 Conference, built a 3-0 lead after 45 minutes of play.
The Pioneers scored their first goal of the afternoon in the 14th minute (13:23) when Adnan Bakalovic's pass landed at the feet of Ethan Thomas, who swept the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net, past Dario Cruz-Sepulveda, to give his team a 1-0 edge. Bakalovic again made his presence known moments later as he crossed a ball in to Randy Malek, who then blasted the ball into the back of the net at 16:37 to give Utica a 2-0 advantage.
Moments later, a straight red card left the Knights with only ten men. The Pioneers would take advantage of that opportunity late in the opening stanza when Thomas Muller would score a goal to catapult the Pioneers to a seemingly commanding 3-0 lead. That would be the final goal scored of the half.
In the second half, Berkeley College showed why it is one of the best, if not the best, teams in USCAA Division II men's soccer. The Knights rallied back and mounted a sensational comeback, despite being down a player on the pitch. Offensive sensation Amadou Sy started Berkeley's scoring in the 62nd minute, drilling a ball into the net (courtesy of a beautiful pass from Ryuji Sugiyama). Later, Jean-Gardy Derineau netted the equalizers, scoring goals in both the 77th (assisted by Meshema Charles) and 83rd (assisted by Marcos Leon) minutes to turn the match around to a tie game.
Later, with 1:01 remaining in the contest, Jhonny Theze buried a penalty kick to give his team a 4-3 advantage. That would turn out to be the game-winner, as Utica College would advance for the one goal victory.
Berkeley held a slim 18-16 edge in the shots department, and the Pioneers earned nine corner kicks compared to five for the Knights. Berkeley was whistled for 10 fouls on the afternoon, compared to four for Utica.
The Knights will return to action on Saturday afternoon, as Berkeley will travel to Hyde Park, NY to face HVIAC foe Culinary Institute. Should Berkeley be victorious, the Knights would clinch a spot in the 2019 HVIAC Men's Soccer Tournament.