The Bulldogs Championship Quest Continues Despite A Shocking Season

Bulldogs vs Privateers at Brooklyn College Field. Photo taken by Joseph Gomez


The Brooklyn College men’s soccer team was heading towards another disastrous season similar to last years. The Bulldogs had one measly win in their first 10 games to start the season, an identical record to the year prior. Despite this rough start, Brooklyn ended the season strong, rattling off three wins and one draw in its last four games. But after this dismal start, Brooklyn came close to winning its first-ever CUNY Athletic Conference championship.

Following the 2021 season, half of Brooklyn’s roster graduated, leaving the team with 12 spots to fill. “Recruiting players for our team in 2022 was extremely difficult. The omicron COVID-19 variant in the fall of ’21 limited our opportunities to scout and acquire top talent,” Bulldogs head coach Luis Flores said.

Brooklyn’s ability to recruit players for the 2023 season was crucial to its success. Flores is a high school PSAL soccer coach as well as a coach at the college. He’s been able to develop deep relationships with numerous high school coaches. Flores has also built friendly relationships with his players, and their families. Flores’ connections outside the college led him to freshman midfielder, George Koufos who won rookie of the year CUNY-wide. Flores had met Koufos and his parents while coaching his two younger sisters during a soccer camp a few summers ago.

Bradlej Cupi’s astounding play also helped revamp the 2023 Bulldogs. Cupi was scoreless during the 2022 season. “I analyzed my gameplays very thoroughly, and improved in the areas where I was lacking most. I trained year-round on the field, and in the weight-room,” Cupi said. “The main factor was the team played better. I had better opportunities this season because of my teammates. My job is to finish the play, and put the ball in the net.” This season, Cupi did just that. He finished the year with 23 total points in 15 games played.

“Koufos is a tremendous passer, and Cupi is a deadly shooter,” Flores said. “They were a dynamic duo for us all year long.” Koufos led the conference in assists with nine, and Cupi was the second leading scorer with 13 goals.

Cupi caught fire and carried Brooklyn through the playoffs. After a draw in their regular season match against John Jay, the Bulldogs had eliminated them with a 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals. Cupi stole the ball in front of John Jay’s goal and scored just 12 minutes into the game. He set the tone early, and Brooklyn never surrendered the lead.

After an impressive win against higher-ranked John Jay, the Bulldogs were staring down a matchup in the semifinals against the number one team in the conference, Lehman College. During the regular season, Brooklyn had faced Lehman on its home turf and got smacked around: the Bulldogs were shutout 4-0.

But Brooklyn was a much-improved team entering this playoff matchup. A first half goal from Cupi was all the Bulldogs needed to secure the victory. Lehman laid it on heavy in the second half, firing shots at senior goalkeeper, Carl-Henry Obeissant, but he was up for the challenge and held the slim 1-0 lead.

“Carl joined our team late in the season, he was dealing with an ankle injury that kept him off the field for the first six games,” Flores said. “Once he returned, his impact was significant. He had a huge height advantage over our backup goalie, along with experience.”

The Bulldogs’ Cinderella story came to an end against Baruch. Brooklyn was defeated 2-0 in a feisty match that came down to the wire. Julio Ramirez scored a goal for the Bearcats 29 minutes into the game. The score remained 1-0 up until the last two minutes of regulation, when Andrew Kinal sealed the Bulldogs’ fate with a goal to extend Baruch’s lead.

Despite a bitter end to a sweet season, Brooklyn expects to be a contender for the 2024 championship. The Bulldogs’ core will feature a young trio of all-stars, Bradlej Cupi, George Koufos, and Ryan Vukovic. “Our experience from these playoffs, will help keep us composed next season,” Flores said. “I also expect to add more impactful players, to our already talented roster.”