The Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team stumbled at the first hurdle of the SUNYAC season, but recovered for a win the next day. The Cardinals will now head to Postdam looking to get above .500 in conference play.
PSUC (3-4-2, 1-1-0) lost Friday afternoon to The College at Brockport (7-2-0, 2-0-0) by a final score of 2-1 before getting the first home win of the season Saturday, 1-0 over SUNY Geneseo (3-3-2, 1-1-0).
The loss came in a game in which the Cards had led 1-0 entering the halftime break off senior midfielder Taka Fukushima’s third goal of the season, assisted by junior midfielder Connor Nembach. That lead didn’t last long, as the Golden Eagles tied the game exactly four minutes into the second half.
“Honestly, we weren’t really that satisfied [at halftime],” Nembach said. “We were up 1-0, but we knew they were one chance away from tying the game.”
Despite several chances to retake the lead — PSUC led shots 11-6 in the second half — the Cards ended up losing to a goal scored with five minutes remaining on the clock.
The goal came as Brockport pushed the ball quickly up the field from a goal kick, which the Plattsburgh players had fervently protested, asking for a corner kick. Regardless of the situation, head coach Chris Taylor was unhappy with the result of the play.
“A lot of things happened on that goal,” Taylor said. “It probably should have been a corner, but, at the end of the day, it wasn’t. We have to be able to defend a goal kick.”
One complication on the play was the fact that the Golden Eagles’ left winger had gone off for injury treatment, meaning he was re-entering the game on the right-hand side. When PSUC shifted their defense to account for that, it created space for Brockport to exploit.
Ayub Jeylani’s shot from the top of the box was met with a diving save from sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Wilson, but Jeff Hibbard was there to put the rebound in for his second goal of the game.
“I thought Brockport exploited a quirk in the game really well,” Taylor said. “We didn’t handle it.”
The Cards were able to bounce back to defeat Geneseo the next day, earning their first SUNYAC win of the season. After Friday’s loss, PSUC was focused on not starting 0-2.
“I think that’s part of the reason we played so well on Saturday,” Nembach said. “We were mad; We were hungry.”
The lone goal of the game was scored on an unassisted first-half play by Nembach, who capitalized on a mental error by the Knights’ back line. A pass from the left back, under pressure from junior forwards Jimmy Marchena and Sean Cray, fell between the two centerbacks, who struggled to communicate as Nembach ran from a deep position to take the ball and score.
Much like a chess player looks many turns ahead with each decision, Taylor offered Nembach praise for “looking two or three passes ahead” on the play.
Geneseo controlled much of the play after the goal, leading second-half shots 10-4, but the Cards held on defensively for their fifth clean sheet in only nine games this season.
“The difference between Saturday and Friday was probably that we were satisfied with one [goal] and knew that one was enough to win,” Taylor said.
After the split on the first weekend of SUNYAC play, PSUC next heads across the North Country to SUNY Potsdam, who suffered an 0-2 weekend to open SUNYAC play after a successful 4-2-1 non-conference schedule.
Coming off a win, the Cards enter the match in a positive mood, but they are focused on not being overconfident.
“I’m confident that we’re going to win,” Nembach said. “But we can’t just disrespect a team like that.”
As Potsdam looks for its first conference win, PSUC will aim to stop that from happening.
“We’ve got to use Potsdam’s mentality, being 0-2,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to make sure all their worst fears come true.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com