The No. 1 seeded Berkeley College New York men's soccer team captured the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title on Sunday afternoon, turning back No. 2 seeded SUNY-ESF by a score of 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. The match took place on the campus of Albany College of Pharmacy.
With the victory, the Knights improved to a mark of 12-6-1 on the 2019, capturing their fourth HVIAC crown in their history. Berkeley also won regional championship in 2010, 2012, and most recently, 2015. In addition, the Knights earned an automatic bid into the USCAA Division II National Men's Soccer Tournament. Berkeley will learn what seed it will be on Wednesday afternoon, when the USCAA broadcasts its selection show live (3:30pm, www.theuscaa.com). Following the triumph, Knights Head Coach Stavros Zomopoulos spoke.
"I'm extremely gratified for the student-athletes that have sacrificed so much over the course of this season," Zomopoulos said. "We entered their 2019 campaign with three primary goals, which were to capture the No. 1 seed in this tournament, win the title, and then go to Nationals and bring home a USCAA crown. We've accomplished two out of our three endeavors, and we know we will have our work cut out for us in Virginia Beach, but we're excited and ready for the challenge of facing some of the best teams in the Nation."
SUNY-ESF, which previously won five consecutive October matches, fell to 8-4-1 with the defeat, and will now await word on a possible USCAA Division II Men's Soccer Tournament at-large bid.
Unlike a day earlier, Berkeley College faced an incredible challenge from the Mighty Oaks. SUNY-ESF played aggressively in the opening half, out-shooting the Knights by a count of 9-4. Berkeley's standout goalkeeper Dario Cruz-Sepulveda was in prime form in first half, stopping four shots and keeping the Mighty Oaks at bay. Neither side was able to break through for that very crucial first goal in the opening 45 minutes.
In the second session, the Knights finally broke through for a goal in the 59th minute (58:51), when Amadou Sy, who tallied six scores in the semifinals against Five Towns College, buried a ball into the back of the net to put Berkeley up 1-0. Fellow veterans Meshema Charles and Jean-Gardy Derineau were each credited with assists on the goal.
Following the Knights goal, SUNY-ESF was able to muster five shots over the final 31:09 of action, including two on-goal, but the Mighty Oaks were unable to net the equalizer, as Berkeley advanced to win its first HVIAC title in four seasons.
For the match, Sy was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. In addition, Knights goalkeeper Cruz-Sepulveda stopped all six of the shots he faced in earning the victory in net. His counterpart, SUNY-ESF netminder Carmine Tronolone, made three saves and allowed just the one goal in taking the loss.
Both squads registered 15 shots on the afternoon, while also tallying six corner kicks apiece, and getting whistled for 11 fouls each.