After graduating, All-ECC selections Simonian, Rico to remain involved with women's soccer program

After graduating, All-ECC selections Simonian, Rico to remain involved with women's soccer program

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — A pair of familiar faces will remain around the NYIT women's soccer program for the fall season.

Jonathan Rico and Dina Simonian — All-East Coast Conference honorees last season for the men's and women's teams, respectively — will pitch in as volunteers for first-year head coach Karim Diallo.

Rico, a third-team All-ECC selection in 2017 and a three-year captain, went 9-8-1 with a 1.21 GAA as a senior goalkeeper.

Simonian, a second-team all-league selection as a midfielder, completed her four-year NYIT career with 20 goals and 10 assists.

With Diallo as an assistant coach, NYIT had a breakthrough year in women's soccer in 2017. The Bears posted a 9-7 record and came within one point of earning the program's first-ever postseason berth.

Several talents return, including rising sophomores Casey Luongo and Nikki Bermudez and rising senior Jess Hawley. The promising signees including Hannah Franco, a forward from Islip High School, who earned one of 60 spots nationally on the United Soccer Coaches Fall High School Girls All-America team.

"It is an honor to help out and still be part of the program," said Simonian, who remains on campus for a three-year physician-assistant program after graduating in May with a bachelor's degree in health sciences. "I have high hopes for the girls, and I would love to help them achieve their goals — one of them being making it to the conference tournament. When I compare this program to what it was my freshman year, it has come a long way and I am proud to have been part of it."

Rico, who plans to pitch in with the men's program too, also graduated in May with a bachelor's degree. He studied mechanical engineering, and still has eyes on a career with Boeing because of his passion for airplanes. But first, he is training in advance of tryouts for professional soccer clubs in Colombia in December.

Simonian indicated her favorite playing moment at NYIT was a 2-1 double-overtime win against Molloy last fall — the Bears' first win against the Lions since 2009. She scored the golden goal in the final minute of that sudden-death period.

Rico's favorite moment at NYIT was winning the ECC championship as a redshirt freshman in 2014, which included a home victory against LIU Post.

"It brings back many memories," he said.

Both are thrilled Diallo ascended to the head-coaching role after Rachel Reeves departed for Sacred Heart.

"It is a well-deserved promotion for Karim," Simonian said. "He is very dedicated and has put a lot of work into making this program a successful one. I see a lot of potential, and I know the work that is being put in will turn this team into one of the most dominant in the conference."