The Plattsburgh State men’s lacrosse team looks to snap a six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion: on the road against a nationally ranked opponent in a rematch of last season’s SUNYAC title game.
The Cardinals (1-6) travel to No. 14 SUNY Cortland (5-3) tomorrow to take on the Red Dragons in the first SUNYAC conference game of the season.
“That’s going to be an easy one to get up for,” head coach Joe May said.
The Cards defeated Cortland when the two teams met in the 2017 SUNYAC Championship Game, and claimed the first conference title in program history.
For May, the rest of the season is irrelevant when it comes to a game against the Red Dragons.
“It’s one of those games where you throw the records out the window,” May said. “It’s just who has the most heart and who wants it the most.”
PSUC senior midfielder Billy Moller is aware that the game will be a tough task, but is confident the Cards are capable of facing the challenge.
“We just have to stop their high-powered offense,” Moller said. “They’ve been putting up a bunch of goals per game.
If we can find ourselves offensively, we will be able to match that with no problem. Their defense isn’t their strong suit, and ours is.”
Despite thinking the matchup favors PSUC, Moller is aware that Cortland will bring their best to the game tomorrow.
“It’s a rematch with the team we beat last year,” Moller said. “They’ll be coming for us, and we’ll be coming to bring it to them.”
The Cards travel to Cortland in rough shape, having lost their last six contests. The most recent loss came at home Wednesday in an 11-6 defeat at the hands of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (6-1).
The Engineers came out strong in the game, outshooting PSUC 8-2 in the first quarter on their way to a 2-0 lead.
“We didn’t get the ball all that much in the first quarter, and when we did, we were tight because we didn’t have the ball,” May said. “We were trying to play their game instead of just playing our game regardless of what they were doing. As soon as we started playing our game again, we were playing really well.”
The Cards bounced back in the second quarter, with four straight goals, including two from Moller, to take a two-goal lead.
“We just got settled in a little bit,” May said. “Our defense got their feet under them and figured out what the other team was trying to do.”
RPI recovered later in the second quarter, and the teams entered halftime tied 4-4.
“We just started making those mental and physical mistakes that ultimately cost us the game,” Moller said. “We turned the ball over. We didn’t clear as well, and we missed ground balls.”
While a goal from senior defensive midfielder Brad Johnston gave PSUC a lead in the first minute of the second half, the Engineers dominated the game from there, scoring seven consecutive goals.
“We made mental errors and execution errors in that game that shifted the momentum,” May said. “We were rolling at one point, and we had a lull. That let a good team back in.”
In addition to the failures on ground balls and clears mentioned by Moller, the Cards also struggled with faceoffs. Senior faceoff specialist Travis Mauro finished the game with eight wins on 21 attempts in the game.
“Faceoffs are tricky, because it’s one guy who gets the win or loss,” May said. “In reality, faceoffs are a three-on-three melee.”
With RPI getting off 49 shots in the game, 25 on net, the final score of 11-6 could have been worse for PSUC. Senior goaltender Donald Tesoriero made 14 saves in the crease.
“I think our goalie play was excellent and really kept us in the game,” May said.
Despite the number of shots he faced, Tesoriero did feel that he saw good things in the Cards’ defensive play.
“On the defensive end, I thought we played fairly well,” Tesoriero said. “We didn’t give up too many chances from the outside.”
However, Tesoriero did offer his observation about things that did not go well for the defensive unit.
“When they do get a shot into the middle, we have to make sure that our slide gets there and we have the two to back it up,” Tesoriero said.
Regardless of the most recent loss or the five before it, the beginning of the conference schedule represents an opportunity to hit the reset button on the season.
“It’s a whole new season,” Moller said. “These six losses don’t matter now. Nothing matters now except any team that has a SUNY next to it.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com