In a short season like NCAA lacrosse, early-season struggles can turn around quickly. This is something Plattsburgh State’s men’s lacrosse team knows well.
The Cardinals (5-8, 4-1) clinched at least a second-place finish in the SUNYAC with a 14-2 victory over SUNY Oneonta (4-9, 1-4) Wednesday, following a 7-4 Saturday victory against the College at Brockport (5-7, 3-2).
PSUC will find out Saturday whom they will host in a semifinal next Wednesday, marking the Cards’ seventh consecutive trip to the playoffs and third time in the last four years hosting the first round.
Before PSUC can focus on playoffs, one final regular-season game at SUNY Geneseo (7-6, 2-3) remains, Saturday at 1p.m. While a win is not necessary for home field, the team is prepared to fight for pride and to keep momentum going into the postseason.
PSUC head coach Joe May said the game will be further complicated by the distance to Geneseo.
After a normal practice Thursday afternoon, the Cards will practice at 7 a.m. today before taking a bus to Rochester. May said the team will spend the night in the hotel before Saturday’s game and immediately return home.
Because it comes near the end of the semester, when academic responsibilities can quickly pile up on a student, May is glad to have home field on Wednesday.
“That’s why it was really important to get a win to get a home game on Wednesday,” May said. “We can make somebody travel to us.”
One goal the Cards will aim for Saturday is an individual milestone: senior attackman Ryan Hubbard needs only three more points to reach the 200 mark in his career.
“He’s a spectacular man to watch play lacrosse,” said David Force, junior faceoff specialist.
May said the Plattsburgh’s schedule each season makes Hubbard’s achievements more impressive.
“How good he is the result of how much time he spends in the gym, how much extra time he spends shooting and how much time he works on his game,” May said.
The Cards’ playoff security was earned by two SUNYAC wins at home. They knocked off Brockport in a tight game in which senior goalie Donald Tesoriero’s 13 saves were the difference.
“Every one counts,” Tesoriero said. “It’s one or two saves that turns a good game to a great game.”
Tesoriero, who earned SUNYAC Goalie of the Week honors, credited the team’s defense for clearing the ball more efficiently, an area he says has been a struggle this season. PSUC was 15-for-17 in each of the last two games on clearing attempts.
After the win, the Cards hosted Oneonta.
One key contributor to the win was Force, who was 7-for-12 at the faceoff in his first game this season, having torn his meniscus two months ago. Force stepped in after starting faceoff specialist, senior Travis Mauro, struggled early in the game.
“One of the best things about Dave is he provides really good competition for Trav,” May said.
Despite Mauro being replaced in the game by Force, May was confident the senior will bounce back.
“Trav is still our guys, for sure,” May said. “We still have a lot of faith and confidence in him.
As the Cards look to Saturday’s contest at Geneseo for momentum, the team is motivated to potentially eliminate the Knights from playoff contention, even if it is May’s alma mater.
“I really enjoyed my time at Geneseo, and I have a lot of respect for that school and that program,” May said. “But I want to beat them.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com