The SUNY Plattsburgh men’s soccer team added two more conference wins against SUNY Cortland and Oswego State during homecoming weekend, followed by a nonconference win against SUNY Canton Tuesday to extend its winning streak to six straight.
The Cardinals currently sit at the top of the SUNYAC standings alongside SUNY Oneonta with a tied conference record of 6-1 and have clinched a tournament spot. Plattsburgh State also swept the weekly conference awards for the second time this season.
Head coach Chris Taylor’s confidence in his team from the beginning of the season has been realized as the conference schedule started and progressed. While there was a bump in the road toward the end of the team’s nonconference schedule, Taylor believes he’s seeing the team he expected all along.
“We had a lot of trial and error I guess is the way to look at it,” he said. “We said at the start of the year that no matter what mid to end of October into November is when we need to be playing at our best. Right now, I don’t want to say we’ve stumbled upon, but we’ve figured out something that’s working for us.”
The Cards played SUNY Cortland last Friday during homecoming weekend at the Field House in what was a 1-0 win. Junior midfielder Cameron Richards knew the Cortland game and the team’s following game against Oswego State would be a challenge.
“We knew coming in they’d be very tough games. Cortland is always a big game of course,” Richards said. “And we knew it’d be one of those games where we wouldn’t have a lot of [possessions with] the ball, so it was a lot of chasing, a lot of defensive work, but it paid off in both games.”
The first 45 minutes were scoreless with the Cards unable to get off a shot. Cortland, however, railed off seven of their own.
SUNY Plattsburgh was able to shoot seven attempts in the second half, while Cortland took nine more, leaving the Cards being outshot 16-7.
The seventh attempt led to a goal by sophomore midfielder Ankit Patel in the 73rd minute of the game, his first of the season.
The Cards held onto their 1-0 lead for the remaining 17 minutes.
Plattsburgh State then hosted Oswego State the next day and celebrated its seniors on Senior Day.
The Cards worked quickly with an opening goal in the seventh minute by Patel. Oswego State took five shot attempts in the first half but couldn’t connect any of them.
SUNY Plattsburgh took only two shots in the second half and was able to score on its second with another goal by Patel, his third of the weekend.
The Cards finished the game in a 2-0 shutout. Taylor thought Patel’s performances were another factor in the team’s success.
“His contribution was big. He changed the way we were able to attack in that he could hold the ball up for us in the forward areas,” Taylor said. “He’s now given us a focal point of the team.”
Patel has played multiple positions on the team, and it’s been a bit of a challenge to find what position works best for him, Taylor said, but Patel is always up for the challenge.
“Wherever [Taylor] puts me, I can perform well,” Patel said.
Another part of the team’s success, Taylor said, is the goalkeepers. Goalkeepers Ryan Wilson, Patrick Feely and James McGarrity have kept their last five opponents scoreless for the Cards.
For their performances last weekend, Patel and Feely were awarded PrestoSports Offensive Athlete of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively.
Plattsburgh State, as a part of Senior Day, celebrated seven seniors. This year’s Senior Day was a little different for Richards.
“This year’s senior class is special for me because when I visited when I was a senior in high school, they were the freshmen who hosted me,” Richards said, “so I feel really close to this senior class. One of my good friends are in this class, so it’s going to be sad to see them go.”
As the regular season winds down, Taylor and his team remains focused on the games immediately ahead of them.
“We haven’t spoken about scenarios. We haven’t spoken about playoffs. We haven’t spoken about standards,” Taylor said. “All we’ve spoken about is opportunity; each game, if we do our job, we keep creating bigger opportunities for ourselves. What those opportunities end up being? We’ll see.”
The Cards finish out their regular season on the road starting today against SUNY New Paltz today at 3 p.m. Then, they’ll play Oneonta tomorrow at 1 p.m., who they’re currently tied in the standings with.
“We all know Saturday is going to be a battle for the league,” Richards said. “I know coach was saying this at practice that this is the biggest weekend for this program in a number of years. We’re all really excited to get out there.”