The Berkeley College New York men's soccer team saw its run at a USCAA National title come to an end on Friday afternoon, as the No. 4 seeded Knights were edged by the No. 1 seeded Bobcats of Bryant & Stratton-Syracuse by a score of 2-1 in the semifinal round of the 2015 USCAA National Men's Soccer Tournament. With the loss, the Knights finalized their very successful season a 15-7, while the Bobcats advanced to the championship game of this year's National tourney to take on No. 2 seeded Maine Fort Kent tomorrow at 2:30pm.
The Knights and Bobcats played nearly 41 minutes of scoreless soccer before Berkeley College finally broke through for the first goal of the afternoon when standout Hasan Sezer notched an unassisted tally to push the Knights in front by a score of 1-0. That one-goal lead would hold true until the 69th minute (68:01) when USCAA All-American Dennis Ntsin knocked in a cross in the box from Shavon John-Brown to tie the game at a goal apiece.
Later - in the 72nd minute (71:18), Bryant & Stratton-Syracuse's Scott Robson scored an unassisted goal to put the Bobcats up 2-1. Berkeley had several late opportunities to score the equalizer, but was unable to capitalize, as the Bobcats held on for a one-goal victory. Following the match, Knights Head Coach Stavros Zomopoulos spoke very highly of his team while also giving credit to the opponents.
"We had a very special group this year," Zomopoulos said. "All season long, these student-athletes worked hard, stayed focused, and most importantly – they believed in one another. Thanks to the trust and the confidence that they instilled in one another, we were able to accomplish many special feats. I am extremely proud of this group, and there is no shame in suffering defeat to a team the caliber of Bryant & Stratton-Syracuse. They came in as the No. 1 seeded team in this tournament, and we gave them everything we had. We built something truly special this season, and I feel we will be extremely motivated in 2016."
The Bobcats held a 21-8 advantage in the shots category over the Knights, while also receiving eight corner kick opportunities compared to one for Berkeley. Bryant & Stratton-Syracuse committed six fouls compared to two for the Knights. Despite the loss, standout goalkeeper Masahiro Kiuchi made seven saves for Berkeley. Harry Watson stopped three shots for the Bobcats.
Berkeley College will now head into its offseason after enjoying plenty of success during the 2015 campaign. For the first time in the program's history, Berkeley captured both the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship and the conference championship. That conference crown was also the third for Berkeley. The Knights automatically qualified for the USCAA National Tournament by winning their regional conference championship, and it marked the second time that the Knights have qualified for competition in a USCAA National Tournament. Finally, this season marked the second time the Knights have advanced to the National Semi-Finals defeating an institution with athletic scholarships. Berkeley will be well equipped to make a run at another HVIAC crown as well as a National championship when the 2016 season begins in late August!