By Collin Bolebruch
The Plattsburgh Cardinals men’s soccer team welcomed sophomore Teddy Healy back into the goal for its latest matchup. Healy missed the last two games with a bruised sternum he suffered in a collision against New Paltz. In his absence, the Cardinals (5-4-2) went 1-0-1 in away conference games with junior Marcial Vasquez filling in.
Plattsburgh hosted the conference opponent Brockport Golden Eagles (6-1-4) Oct. 1 and lost by a score of 1-2. Top sophomore midfielder John Hayes missed the match for undisclosed reasons. The home loss drops the Cardinals to a 1-2-2 record in the SUNYAC, good for fifth in the standings. Brockport has possession of the top spot in the SUNYAC standings with a 4-0 record. The Cards are still searching for a conference win on its own pitch with two more opportunities in the upcoming week.
Healy, who visited the hospital for his injury, made his return to his position after 10 days away from gameplay. While he was away, Vasquez recorded nine saves and only allowed one goal for a total save percentage of .900. Healy said that it feels as if he is back to 100% physically and his return to the pitch “feels fine, feels normal.”
Assistant Coach Geoff Spear aided with Healy’s return. He described transitioning Healy back into games as mostly “getting him to where he was physically feeling well.” Another variable, he said, was “getting back into the groove.”
“It’s like climbing a ladder. It’s tough climbing up, but you fall down pretty quickly,” Spear said. “I think he’s climbed right back up to where he was before [the injury].”
For a promising conference team, losing a starter is always scary, but Spear had confidence in the replacement, Vasquez.
“I knew he had the skills, I knew he had what it took,” Spear said. “It was, ‘could he relax and play?’ And I think he did a super phenomenal job when he got that opportunity. He played within himself, he did what he did well.”
Healy was almost immediately tested by Brockport. Just over a minute into the game, Golden Eagle sophomore Russ Domm sent a ball at the bottom right of the goal and Healy was there to stop it. That was Brockport’s only opportunity for a while, as the next 10 minutes included four Plattsburgh shot attempts. None connected with the back of the net.
Brockport’s next shot didn’t come until around the 25-minute mark, when Domm sent a ball over the goal. Under two minutes later, Plattsburgh scored its first and only goal. Sophomore Brian Coughlan put a ball in unassisted to become the team’s sole leader in goals on the year with four.
“When you play a lot of the minutes and you’re a guy they look for, you’ve got to try and convert as many chances as you get,” Coughlan said.
The Cardinals finished the half with a 1-0 lead over the conference’s top team, allowing just three shots.
Plattsburgh’s momentum was halted soon into the second half. Within nine minutes of each other, Brockport’s Domm and fifth-year Matthew Stefaniw tucked away transition goals to make the score 2-1. The Cardinals would not recover from the dual scores.
“We tried to go forward a little bit too quickly, we didn’t hold on to the ball as well [as the first half],” Head Coach Chris Taylor said. “Essentially, we had a rough 20 minutes, that was really it. Outside of that, we were outstanding. By far the better team.”
Plattsburgh recorded three more shots over the rest of the game. In the last 10 minutes of play, the Cardinals had five corner kick opportunities, only one resulted in a shot attempt.
“We’ve just got to convert a couple of our chances in the box. We’re there, it’s just really that last finish that we need,” Coughlan said.
Coughlan was the lone goal-scorer on the day. Senior Juan Velez and junior Dylan Shalvey produced a shot on goal each for a team total of four, matching Brockport in the category. Healy saved two and allowed two for a .500 save percentage, his lowest number in the statistic in exactly a year, when he saved just .333% of shots against Oneonta in his first-year season.
The Cardinals hit the road for its fifth conference matchup, playing the rival Oswego Lakers (4-5-1) Oct. 8. Plattsburgh is 32-15-1 against Oswego all-time, which includes a 17-7 record in away matches and a current ten game undefeated streak. Oswego has yet to win at home this season. The contest is crucial for the Cardinals, as the Lakers would jump it in the SUNYAC standings with a win.
“We’re more than good enough to win that game,” Taylor said. “I don’t walk away from this thinking [Brockport] is the best team in the league. If they are, I think we’re pretty good.”