Several Locals Named To United Soccer Coaches DI Regional Teams

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Several Long Island Division I men’s soccer players were named to All-Regional teams by United Soccer Coaches.

The East Region Third Team included two Stony Brook University players, senior defense Danny Espinoza from East Meadow and senior forward Vince Erdei of Budapest Hungary.

Espinoza played and started in 17 games for Stony Brook and tallied two goals and two assists in 2017. He helped anchor the Seawolves defense that allowed just six goals in seven conference games. Espinoza finishes his four-year career at Stony Brook with two goals and 11 assists.

Erdei, who was also selected to the America East Second Team and All-Academic Team, registered a team-high eight goals while adding one assist in 2017. He finishes his career at Stony Brook ranking 10th all-time in career goals (22).

St. John’s senior midfielder Harry Cooksley of London, England, was named to the Great Lakes Region First Team, while his teammate David Enstrom, a senior defense from Stockholm, Sweden, was named to the region’s Third Team.

Cooksley, the Big East Midfielder of the Year, tied for the team lead in points with 16 after registering four goals and eight assists. The senior’s eight assists tied for the highest single-season total by a St. John’s player since Matt Groenwald dished out nine in the College Cup season of 2003.

Enstrom became the ninth player in Red Storm history and the first since 2008 to earn Big East Defensive Player of the Year accolades. The Red Storm led the conference and ranked 15th nationally in goals-against average (0.71) while tallying eight shutouts. The Buffalo transfer’s lone tally of the year came at a crucial time, as he headed home the game-winner against No. 10/7 Georgetown on October 28 at Belson Stadium.

Massapequa native Brandon Merklin, a junior defender with the University of Massachusetts, was named to the Midwest Region Third Team.

He earned A-10 All-Tournament Team honors as Merklin and the UMass defense allowed just one goal in three games during the tournament. The junior defender scored a goal in the season opener against Saint Francis before adding assists in league games against La Salle and Fordham.

The Northeast Region’s team include a host of local players. The First Team includes Faouzi Taieb, sophomore defense for St. Francis College (Brooklyn) from Marseille, France; senior midfielder Dom Falanga also of St. Francis College (Brooklyn) from Brooklyn; and Brian Saramago, a sophomore forward from Loyola University (Maryland) from New Hyde Park.

Taieb, the ECAC & NEC Defensive Player of the Year, anchored a Terrier defense that only allowed two goals in conference play this past season. He’s also scored three goals, including a pair of game-winners this season versus Manhattan and Fairleigh Dickinson.

Falanga tied for eighth in the NEC in scoring with 15 points and finished second on the team with seven goals, including a pair of game-winners. The Brooklyn native was named the NEC Player of the Week after his second-half hat-trick in under six minutes against Robert Morris on October 20.

This marks Saramago’s second-straight all-region honor and his first first-team honoree. Despite missing time due to injury, he led the Greyhounds and ranked second in the Patriot League in points per game (1.36), fourth in points (19), tied for second in goals (8), tied for first in game-winning goals (3) and seventh in shots per game (2.71).

The Northeast Region Second-Team includes senior goalkeeper Robert Bazzichetto of St. Francis College (Brooklyn) from San Vendemiano, Italy; Danilo Markovic, senior defense with Siena College, from Queens; junior midfielder Rasmus Hansen of LIU Brooklyn from Greve, Denmark; sophomore midfielder Barry Sharifi of Loyola University (Maryland) from Jericho; and Ali Tounkara, a sophomore forward with St. Francis College (Brooklyn) from Aulnay, France.

Bazzichetto won 13 contests and compiled seven shutouts. He’s allowed 15 goals in 17 starts and was selected as a First Team All-Conference pick.

Markovic concluded his Siena career ranked third all-time in matches played with 74 while scoring 11 points that included a pair of game-winning goals. He was previously named a Second Team All-MAAC honoree in 2015, and a MAAC All-Rookie Team selection in 2013.

Hansen, a three-time first team All-NEC honoree and two-time All-ECAC selection, led the LIU Brooklyn in goals (9) and points (22) during a season that saw the Blackbirds secure the #2 seed with a 4-2-1 league mark, and finish second overall in the NEC. He ranked second in the league in points per game, and third in goals scored following the postseason.

Sharifi played in all 18 games and ranked third on the team in minutes played (1473). He finished the year second on Loyola in assists (7) and points (17), while he was tied for second with five goals scored.

Tounkara was the leading scorer in his first season with St. Francis with eight goals and two assists. The sophomore was MVP of the 2017 NEC Tournament after tying a tournament record with four goals and eight points. Tounkara was also named to the 2017 NEC All-Rookie Team.

The Northeast Third-Team includes senior defender Collyns Laokandi with St. Francis College (Brooklyn) from Paris, France; and junior defender Filip Nordstrom of LIU Brooklyn from Stockholm, Sweden.

Laokandi, the 2016 NEC & ECAC Defensive Player of the Year, fought off some early season injuries to start 14 games for the Terriers. He also had a pair of assists this past year.

Nordstrom finished the 2017 campaign with a goal and seven assists.