The Plattsburgh State men’s lacrosse team is on a streak of eight losses, the longest such streak in program history, and will hope to change that when it hosts SUNY Oswego this weekend.
“The mood in the locker room is not a happy one,” head coach Joe May said. “But it’s an excited one for another opportunity to play together.”
The Cardinals (1-8, 0-1) are scheduled to host the Lakers (6-2, 0-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We know we’ve lost eight games straight,” sophomore midfielder Kevin Litchauer said. “I think that says enough. But we’re going to make sure we’re ready to go.”
One streak will end Saturday regardless of the result, as PSUC enters the game on an eight-game losing streak this season but has not lost to Oswego since an overtime decision in 2009.
“Every SUNYAC game is a big rivalry for us,” Litchauer said.
The Cards’ current losing streak became the longest in program history last Saturday with a 10-7 road loss to No. 15 SUNY Cortland (6-4, 1-0), the seventh in a row.
“It was a game of runs,” May said. “We weren’t able to stifle their run at the end. We got away from what we do offensively and forced some shots, and their goalie made some saves.”
With goals by senior attackman Ryan Hubbard in the final minutes of both the first and second quarters, the score was tied 5-5 at halftime. PSUC took a two-goal lead in the third quarter, but a five-goal run by Red Dragons spelled defeat for the visitors.
“We played good lacrosse that day,” May said. “Anybody who watched that knew those were two good teams out there that battled hard, and that game could have gone either way.”
May is not looking to dwell on the loss because the goal is to win another SUNYAC Championship, even while currently holding the worst record among conference teams.
“I want to beat [Cortland] when it really matters,” May said. “We did that last year, and we can certainly do that again this year. But another game with Cortland is no guarantee. We have got a lot of work to do before we get to that point.”
After the loss on the road, the Cards returned home for the final non-conference game of their season: a 13-6 defeat by No. 19 St. Lawrence.
Heavy winds and an early-April snow shower made for uncomfortable conditions and limited visibility through most the second half of the game, but that was not enough to disrupt the Saints’ strategy.
“St. Lawrence is one of the best-coached teams that we play every year,” May said. “They came out with an excellent game plan against our offense, and we struggled to adapt to it.”
Much of the game was characterized by long offensive possessions for St. Lawrence and short, often unsuccessful, possessions for PSUC. For May, who was confident entering the season that he had the personnel to replace the lost goalscoring of Ryan Callahan, the offensive struggles are a sign that the team is underperforming.
“I think it’s not a problem of talent, it’s a problem of execution,” May said. “We’ve just got to get them firing on all cylinders.”
Despite the loss, May was happy with the Cards’ mentality in the game.
“I was beyond impressed with the heart that my team played with,” May said. “It’s easy to get negative when you’re on a losing streak, and it’s easy to point fingers. We showed a lot of maturity in a loss today, to keep our cool and not take bad penalties.”
May said that this maturity is not enough to get wins, and that PSUC will need to cut down on “ mental mistakes” and “too many unforced turnovers that lead to momentum shifts.”
“Once we get those things cleaned up, the goals will come, and the wins will come,” May said. “There is still a lot of season left.”
Despite the struggles his team has had this season, May dismissed any thoughts of pressure. For May, there is only a desire to get back to winning ways.
“If we lose Saturday, is our season over? No,” May said. “But heck yes, I want to win.”
Email Nathanael LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org