Knights stunned in final seconds, NYIT draw eliminates team from playoff contention

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Captain Danny Stoker’s late game heroics was short-lived after NYIT tied the score of the regular season’s final game during its final seconds, ending the playoff hopes of the men’s soccer team on Oct. 27.

Stoker, who typically played forward but started the game as a defender, led the underdog Knights (3-3-3) to a hard fought battle at home against the East Coast Conference’s third-place team, NYIT (5-2-2). The senior netted his eleventh goal of the season from close range on the 44th minute in the second half. But NYIT’s Dominic Lovino tied it up with a header with less than 20 seconds remaining.

“Its was like a Hail Mary football play,” said head coach Carl Christian. “We could’ve done things a little better, not allowing the chance by taking care of the ball.”

The Queens College fans were left in awe for the remaining of the match as both teams finished the 20-minute overtime still knotted up at one.

“Disappointing,” Stoker said. “Today was a good performance, we got unlucky in the last couple seconds, but we can only learn from mistakes and move on.”

The Knights’ playoff hopes hinged upon the combination of a win or tie and a Mercy College loss to St. Thomas Aquinas. Mercy and STAC, however, played to a 2-2 draw soon after QC’s game ended.

Before their final game, the Knights allowed a combined 12 goals in two matches that resulted in losses. Christian made the decision to have Stoker play defense in order to stop the struggling Knights. The defense impacted the game, as no corner kicks and no shots were given to NYIT during the first half.

“We shouldn’t have been playing to win today for a playoff spot,” Christian said. “We should’ve taken care of that the last couple of games but we didn’t perform that well and we put ourselves in this position.”

The Knights had opportunities to cash in, but those opportunities were reflected off NYIT’s goalkeeper Liam Waddy. Ten minutes into the match, Knights forward Jose Lopez seemed to have had the defense beaten, but the Waddy reflected the ball out of the area, resulting in one of the nine corner kicks given to the Knights. On the 41st minute of the first half, midfielder Tyler Iocco also got his shot deflected from Waddy, as he faced the goalkeeper one-on-one inside the penalty box.

“We played better football,” Christain said. “We had a couple of good looks at the goal, but the goalie made unbelievable stops.”

The draw resulted in the Knights wrapping up the 2012 season with a 7-6-4 overall record and a .500 conference record.

Coming off a season where they lost eight senior players, many questions seemed to have been answered in the beginning campaign of the 2012 season concerning the new recruits. The Knights started off with a 5-3-2 record and seemed well on their way to continuing their strong play into the playoff hunt. But the Knights only managed to win two out of the remaining eight games and lost four.

With only two graduating seniors this year, the Knights’ team chemistry next season looks strong, as most of the team’s players are expected to be returning for a 2013 season in quest for a championship run.

“Just knowing that everyone is going to get better, it is just scary to see how good we can be in the future,” said Knights freshman goalkeeper Stilianos Fotinos.

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