A close, exciting and physical soccer battle matched Lehman of the Bronx and Baruch of Manhattan for the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) post-season tournament title to determine the automatic bid into the Division III NCAA tournament was recently contested.
The exciting soccer game went into overtime and eventually decided by a penalty kick by junior midfielder Thaddeus Ikwuka. His goal in the extra session gave Lehman a 5-4 win on penalty kicks and enabled the Lightning their first ever appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Lightning, favorite and top seeded to win the tourney defeated the College of Staten Island and Hunter in the quarter final and semi-final games, respectively, In the other half of the draw, Baruch turned back City College, and York College, in the opening and second round action, respectively.
Junior Oumar Niang, the second highest point total player in the league during the season, sophomore Momor Thiang and junior Guede Guikounou were some of the offensive standouts for the season and junior Marcoc Coto Bates played near perfect defense in goal along with the rest of their teammates.
However, you cannot leave out Ikwuka and freshman Carlos Ribeiro, who also defended very well. But it was the former, who scored the most important goal when it counted the most in the final game of the season before the NCAA tournament began.
Soccer on the varsity intercollegiate level is on the upswing for Lehman, whose head coach is Joe Andree, who is assisted by Churchill Jackson and Jordan Salhoobi.
Niang, a midfielder and forward, has been named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, presented by Applebee’s. He scored the game’s first goal.
Soccer on the varsity level is on the upswing for Lehman, winner of the regular season title this year by two games ahead of York.
The athletic department dropped soccer after it was a varsity team until the late ‘90s. There was a gap for about 10 years with no such squad until a club team took its place on campus. Through the efforts of Athletic Director Martin Zirwin and his staff, the Lightning came back with soccer being an interscholastic team once again.
“The soccer program started in 2008 and in the following year moved up to varsity status,” Assistant Coach Jackson said. “It became varsity in 2009. We have a great team and we are well disciplined on the field.”
“The success of the season and its turnaround from last year was the influx of talent level, bringing in mid defense, work ethics and hard practice,” Jackson said.
Jackson, himself, hails from Haiti, where he learned his soccer as a youngster.
‘The program is only three years old and we progressed very well,” said Jackson, who played his intercollegiate soccer for Lehman for four years in the early to mid 90.
It means a great deal to win this title for the first time in the history of the college.
“I take a tremendous pride in leading this program and I approach it with a passion that I don’t think can be matched by too many people given the fact that I played here. Lehman is home, and I’m just glad to give back,” Andre said.