It wasn’t long ago that the Plattsburgh State lacrosse team had its back against the wall. Now, fresh off a big win against conference rival Potsdam, the Cardinals are headed to the SUNYAC Championship against Cortland for the third straight year.
Three weeks ago, James Read made a statement after the team had lost its second straight game, making the last two matches must-wins.
“A lot of what happens going forward will depend on how the young guys step up,” Read said.
They have stepped up.
In the team’s two most recent games, freshman midfielder Ryan Hubbard has not looked like a typical freshman, scoring seven goals and collecting an assist over that span. Hubbard also currently sits third in the SUNYAC in goals scored.
Junior All-American attackman Brendan Damm commented on how Hubbard’s recent success has helped the team, especially in their semifinal win against Potsdam.
“Hubbard had a great game,” Damm said immediately after PSUC’s big win. “When he plays like that, it really opens things up.”
Damm has also been hitting his stride in the closing stretch of PSUC’s season. He has received two-straight SUNYAC Player of the Week awards and is leading the conference in both goals and total points, trailing only Read in assists. He is surely on track for more All-American recognition.
Head coach Ryan Cavanagh is not shy about how important and impressive Damm has been this year.
“Brendan is obviously our best player,” Cavanagh said. “I couldn’t come close to listing all of the ways he helps us.”
Prior to Wednesday’s match, Cavanagh said that while he was confident in his team going against Potsdam, it is hard to beat a team twice, and adjustments were going to be needed for them to pull it off.
Adjustments were made and the win was secured. Now, it’s on to the next one.
The Cards will attempt to beat Cortland in the conference championship for the third straight season, which has proved to be a nearly impossible task for opponents for as long as the tournament has existed.
Cortland has won seven straight SUNYAC championships, and 22 of the 25 in the history of the SUNYAC tournament. Geneseo is the only other program to capture the title.
In their match earlier this season, PSUC got off to a slow start, going down 8-0, and a comeback effort fell short, with a final score of 15-9.
Read believes his squad has a solid chance in the championship against Cortland, who beat Oneonta 21-5 to advance to the game, regardless of what happened the last time they played and Cortland’s huge game against Oneonta.
“Numbers like that don’t really mean much or scare us,” Read said. “Any team in the SUNYAC can go off on another any given day. If we bring our best game and are physically and mentally prepared, it is sure to be a dogfight.”
Cavanagh shares a similar attitude. He believes the team’s earlier bout against Cortland was their worst performance of the year, and PSUC was also missing some key players at the time.
“Cortland is always the best team in the conference, but I think we played our worst lacrosse against them,” Cavanagh said. “We now have the chance to win a SUNYAC championship, which is a huge enjoyment for us to be there, and even more of an enjoyment if we get the ‘W.’”
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