After three straight conference wins this past week, Plattsburgh State has now been faced with a potential speed bump with the loss of its senior midfielder Fabian Chaparro to a dislocated elbow.

Prior to this most impactful injury, the Cards were focused on playing their game for the remainder of the season. Both players and coaches have preached throughout the season that they do not change the way they play their game for any opponent, no matter what the circumstances may be. Although Chaparro’s absence will prove to be rough for the team to overcome, their mindset has not changed in the slightest.

“Even though we don’t know when I’ll be back it’s time for me to be a leader off the field,” Chaparro said. “We just have to play our game with heart, passion and enthusiasm, and we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

The Cards seemed to follow these instructions flawlessly when they first lost Chaparro in last weekend’s game against Oneonta, as they were still able to pick up the win. With four more conference games to play, doctors are unsure how long the injury will prevent Chaparro from playing.

Before this setback, the senior midfielder was leading the club in assists and was a strong presence on the field, playing 883 minutes out of a possible 1,200. Head coach Chris Waterbury understands the importance of replacing the minutes that Chaparro brought to the table.

“The challenge is that if he can’t play this weekend, there is 180 minutes out there to fill.” Waterbury said. “We just have to find out who wants them.”

Fortunately for the Cards, looking for players to replace those minutes should not be a hard task due to the fact that their roster contains very few holes in it. Out of the 28-man club, 13 of them have found the back of the net this year. To put this in perspective, PSUC’s SUNYAC counterpart, Oswego only has nine players out of its 24-man roster that have scored this year. This stat alone shows how blessed the Cards have been with depth.

“There’s something special about the team this year.” Chaparro said. “If one man goes down, there is always the next man up that we have confidence in getting the job done.”

This upcoming weekend ,there is a big job to be done for the Cards. With two conference games against Buffalo State and Fredonia, PSUC is presented with a fork in the road.

If they are victorious in both games, they have a strong chance to clinch a playoff birth. On the other hand, if they are to lose both games, their playoff fate is unclear.

“This weekend, nobody is mathematically certain to clinch or be eliminated,” Waterbury said. “So everyone still believes they have a chance, and that makes teams very hungry for a win.”

Despite playoffs being roughly two weeks away, the always-competitive SUNYAC conference has a playoff atmosphere already brewing. There are several fights that are occurring throughout the standings currently. The bottom four teams (Potsdam, Fredonia, Geneseo and Oswego) are desperate for a win.

The teams that find themselves in the middle of the standings (Buffalo State, Cortland and New Paltz) are hoping to separate themselves from the toxicity of one another, while the top two teams Plattsburgh and Oneonta are trying to clinch a playoff birth this weekend. In this conference, playoffs have already begun.

“These playoff like situations are great for the team.” assistant coach Geoff Spear said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to keep the ball rolling.”

Email Kevin Morley at kevin.morley@cardinalpointsonline.com

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