The Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team hosted the W.B. Mason Cardinal Classic last weekend, and walked away from the challenging weekend with a split.
Coming off a mid-week loss to Skidmore, PSUC (3-2) got back to the winning side of things on Saturday, opening the tournament with a 2-0 win over Mount Saint Mary College (2-3). Plattsburgh State head coach Christopher Waterbury saw this as a great response to a tough loss.
“We really got punched in the mouth, metaphorically with the Skidmore game,but this is a good bounce-back for us,” Waterbury said.
The win on Saturday advanced the Cards to Sunday afternoon’s championship game, when they faced the Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins University (4-0). A poor first-half PSUC performance, however, would be enough to earn the Blue Jays another 2-0 win and the championship.
“We had a specific game plan in place to take away what they do best,” Waterbury said. “In the first half, we really didn’t do a good job of taking that game plan away, and it hurt us because we were chasing the ball and wasting a lot of energy.”
A long-range shot from Freshman Alejandro Maclean, his second goal of the weekend, gave the Blue Jays a 35th minute lead they would never concede. Waterbury felt that his team was in position to defend on the play, but did not execute.
“We were in good defensive shape, but somebody had to step up to the ball,” Waterbury said. “It’s very similar to the goal we gave up to Skidmore. We’ve just got to be better than that.”
The Cards entered halftime with a 1-0 deficit, but came out of the break with a much better performance. While PSUC was unable to find the equalizing goal, Waterbury was impressed with the way his team responded.
“We drew it up on the board again at halftime,” Waterbury said. “To the guys’ credit, they trusted the process. We saw the difference in the second half. We had them pinned in a lot of the game, we just couldn’t get that final pass and that final goal.”
While the Cards did give up a goal to Johns Hopkins forward Achim Younker in the 89th minute, Waterbury said that was a consequence of his team’s urgency to score late in the game.
“The goal with 15 seconds left was just a product of pushing up,” Waterbury said. “Those things happen.”
Speaking after the game, Junior Forward Chris Robertson was focused on the positives of PSUC’s second-half performance.
“At half time we addressed a few things,” Robertson said. “We came back pretty strong in the second half. I thought we had a good amount of opportunities to tie the game, and we just weren’t able to find the back of the net. The second half was a lot better team effort than the first.”
Robertson sees that second-half performance as a sign that the team knows what it needs to improve to get better results.
“I think if we put together a first half like our second half today, it could have been a different game,” Robertson said. “I think we’ve got to keep working, pushing each other in practice, make it more game-like, and I think once we get the consistency we’ll be fine.”
Finding the back of the net a five times in three of the Cards’ five games, Robertson is currently the leading scorer for PSUC. From Robertson’s perspective, his tally in the early part of the season has been a product of team play.
“I’ve just been the guy in the right spot at the right time,” Robertson said. “I haven’t really been doing anything extraordinary. Everybody’s been doing their job, and I just happen to be the guy in the right spot. I know if anybody else was in the same situation, they’d do the same job.”
Coming off the loss to Johns Hopkins, the Cards had a short turn-around before hosting the Cadets of Norwich University. After the game on Sunday, Waterbury was already focused ahead to that next opponent.
“It’s just about trying to keep doing what we do and you’ve got to put it behind,” Waterbury said. “The only game that matters is the next one.”
PSUC went on to beat Norwich 4-0 Wednesday night, with four different players hitting the scoreboard.
Junior Alex Price, senior Elver Maldonado, and sophomores Alex Price and Kyle Pfaff all tallied goals in the blowout.
The Cards will continue their stretch of home games on Saturday, Sept. 16, as they host the Golden Knights of Clarkson University at 7p.m. before travelling to Canton, N.Y. to take on St. Lawrence University at 4p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
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