Magical Men’s Soccer Season Ends With Gold and National Recognition

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The men’s soccer team was good last year — but they were great this year. 

Coming off of a devastating conference semifinal loss on their home field last season, the team came back with a vengeance and had easily their best year in program history.

With a final regular season record of 8-7-2, the Knights were selected as the third seed in the East Coast Conference playoffs. Upsetting the #2-seeded Mercy College Mavericks — which is the team that knocked them out last season — in the first conference playoff game set the Knights up with their first date in the conference finals. 

In a one-to-nil victory over the #4-seeded University of the District of Columbia Firebirds in Flushing, the team secured their first conference championship in program history. Freshman Tommy Gunn was the only player to put it through the net that night.

It didn’t end there, however, as the Knights earned an automatic bid to the national NCAA Tournament that sees the best teams in the country battle it out every year. The Knights were selected as the 10th seed in their side of the bracket. 

“Returning to the NCAA Tournament is a phenomenal feat for the program. It truly shows the resiliency of our boys who really want to be part of history,” said Head Coach Frank Vertullo to the Athletics department. Vertullo won his first East Coast Conference Coach of the Year award last season.

Not only did the Knights return to the NCAA Tournament, but they won their first NCAA Tournament game in program history as well, upsetting the #7-seeded Notre Dame College Falcons from Ohio 2-1. They were one of only two ten-seeded teams to win a game, with all nine seeds losing as well. Freshman Juan Gomez and transfer sophomore Harry Cooke scored for the Knights. The latter led the team in points (26), shots (79), goals (10), shots on goal (37), and game winning goals (four) this year.

While the Knights eventually lost to the #2-seeded — and #3 nationally ranked — University of Charleston Golden Eagles in the following round, the Knights still had a plethora of firsts, undoubtedly having their best season in program history. 

Both senior midfielder Adolfo Martinez Paquet and sophomore defender Jose Mendez earned First Team All-Conference honors alongside Division II Conference Commissioners Association honors. Paquet was selected to the First Team All-Region and Mednez was selected to the second team. The former is now eligible to earn All-American honors, which he earned last year.

The other three honorees were Cooke, senior forward Leo Pinto, and sophomore midfielder Kevin Johnson who all made the Second Team All-Conference. 

The Knights came into the year without a single playoff victory in program history and left with four alongside their first conference championship. With young talent across the board, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them back in this position come next fall.

Holden Velasco

Editor-in-Chief at The Knight News. Queens. Sports. Writing. CUNY Product. NetsDaily at SB Nation. New York Times Corps member. Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. Formerly SLAM.


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