FAIRFIELD, Conn. - With a 2-0 win over Bryant last Sunday, the Sacred Heart men's soccer team clinched its first Northeast Conference playoff berth since 2007. The Pioneers visit Fairleigh Dickinson tomorrow in their regular season finale before the NEC Championships commence next weekend.
About the Pioneers... Sacred Heart improved to 11-5-1 overall and 6-2-1 in the NEC after the "Senior Day" win over the Bulldogs. By winning their 11th game of the season, the Pioneers set a program record for wins in a season at the Division I level. Previously the record was 10, set in 2007, the last season the team qualified for postseason play. Sophomore Marcello Castro (Parana, Brazil) has made a smooth transition from the center midfield to the center of the defense this season. He remains a threat, offensively, as he leads the team in scoring with five goals and two assists for a total of 12 points. Recently, senior goalkeeper Tyler Locatell (Goshen, N.Y.) has seen his number called to be in between the pipes for SHU. In his first two collegiate games, Locatell is 1-1 with seven saves and a 1.33 goals against average.
Scouting the Knights... There is a lot at stake in Saturday's game as Fairleigh Dickinson currently sits in the fourth and final slot of the NEC playoffs, but has yet to clinch. Going into the weekend, the Knights are 9-6-1 overall an 5-3-1 in the NEC with 16 points, two ahead of Robert Morris. FDU has been idle since October 29, but is in the midst of a four-game winning streak. Sophomore Dominic Reinold ranks fourth in the league with 22 total points on nine goals and four assists. In net, freshman Jacob Lissek owns a 0.96 GAA and has stopped 56 shots.
Last Time Out... Senior midfielders Lusiano Dadario (East Haven, Conn.) and Sergio Freitas (Edison, N.J.) each tallied a score en route to a 2-0 playoff-clinching victory over Bryant on Campus Field, last Sunday. Dadario scored first as sophomore Brian Francolini (Ellington, Conn.) chipped a ball over the defense and Dadario ran on for the breakaway score. Later in the first half, Castro blasted a free kick from beyond midfield to Freitas who trapped the ball in traffic, but was able to get a shot off for the goal. Locatell made a pair of saves to earn the first win and shutout of his career.
Last Time vs. FDU... Last year Sacred Heart's season ended with a 2-0 loss to Fairleigh Dickinson that kept them out of the playoffs. Serge Zulu and Reinold each scored for the Knights in the win. Majdi Zaineh made three saves to give FDU the win and lengthen its season. The Pioneers came up short despite several close scoring chances, including a free kick by Jesper Fredriksson that hit off the inside of the crossbar, but bounced out and a Norman Baer header that was stopped by a diving Zaineh.