Pierce soccer relies on its star goalie
The formula is pretty simple: If the Franklin Pierce men’s soccer team scores a goal, a victory will likely follow.
With Vinny Papageorgiou guarding the net, one goal is usually enough, because the senior keeper from Wilmington has made the back of the net his personal vault.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Papageorgiou is putting together a brilliant season for the Ravens (19-0-1), ranked second nationally in Division 2. He has played every minute (1,849) of every game, allowing just 11 goals for a 0.54 goals against average - fifth best among NCAA goalkeepers - while racking up 11 shutouts, including a half-dozen 1-0 thrillers.
The only blemish standing between Papageorgiou and 20 wins is a 1-1 stalemate against New Haven in early October.
Franklin Pierce, the Northeast-10 Conference regular season and tournament champion, has needed Papageorgiou to come up big this season. As talented as the Ravens are defensively, they are offensively challenged; their 2.06 goals scored per game rank 44th among NCAA Division 2 teams.
“We feel that if we score a goal, we can win the game,’’ said Franklin Pierce coach Craig Stewart. “It’s a balance of defense and attacking and [Papageorgiou] staying focused.’’
Papageorgiou feels he is having the best year of his career, although his previous three were also oustanding.
■ His freshman season, he was 11-5-2, with a 0.86 GAA and eight shutouts.
■ As a sophomore, he went 11-4-2, with an 0.80 GAA and eight shutouts.
■ Last year he was 17-2-2, with a 0.55 GAA and 11 shutouts.
This year, though, he’s been lights out.
“No doubt this has been my best season, but it’s not just me,’’ said Papageorgiou, the NE-10’s Goalkeeper of the Year.
“It’s the whole defense, all those guys that play in front of me. We’re all just doing our jobs. Everyone is focused. When there are lulls between saves, I communicate with the defense and we keep each other focused.’’
Stewart, who has guided Franklin Pierce to a 49-7-6 record in his three years at the helm, appreciates the efforts of Papageorgiou.
“His biggest strength has been his dedication to the game,’’ said Stewart. “He takes the time to scout opponents and research his starts. He goes above and beyond, and it’s that ethic that has made him so successful. He’s gotten better each season because he has worked at making himself better.’’
Its near-perfect record and NE-10 championship earned Franklin Pierce top seed, home field advantage, and a first-round bye in the NCAA Division 2 Super Regional. The Ravens were scheduled to host either New York Tech or St. Thomas Aquinas last night in the second round.
‘Match for Milan’ aid disabled player
The second “Match for Milan’’ will be played Nov. 26 at Henry T. Knowlton Stadium in Winchester, kicking off with a varsity girls’ alumnae game at 10 a.m., followed by a varsity boys’ alumni game at noon, and then a reception at the Winchester Sons of Italy.
Proceeds benefit Milan Moosavizadeh, a former Winchester player who suffered a heart attack during a soccer tournament in Lancaster on May 29, 2010.
A freshman at the time, Moosavizadeh was airlifted to Boston’s Children’s Hospital, where he spent several months in a coma. His family eventually took him off life support but he survived, although he is now blind and has severe brain damage. Last year’s event raised about $40,000, which was used to provide a specialized van for Moosavizadeh. Tickets may be purchased by contacting Nick Woolf at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at matchformilan.com.
Freshman Brittany Russo of Danvers was named Rookie of the Year in the NE-10 after scoring a team-high nine goals and 19 points for the University of Massachusetts Lowell women’s soccer team. Teammate and midfielder Madeline Bissaillon of Merrimac earned first team all-conference honors. . . . Grad student Elise Caira of Wakefield will cocaptain the Bentley women’s basketball team this season. The 5-10 forward has been hampered by injuries throughout her career. When able to play, however, she averaged 11.9 points and 8.1 rebounds. Last year, before suffering a season-ending knee injury in late December, Caira was averaging 13.6 points and 9.4 rebounds. She’ll share the captainship with junior guard Kelsey Roberson of Arlington. . . . Brandeis sophomore fencer Julian Cardillo of Medford won a bronze medal at the Northeast Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Invitational. Cardillo went 6-0 in the saber elimination bracket and beat opponents from Boston University, Rutgers, and Sacred Heart before losing in the semifinal round to eventual champion Barrett Weiss of Brown.
John Vellante can be reached at JohnPVel@aol.com.