The Plattsburgh State men’s lacrosse team is heading back to the SUNYAC championship after defeating the College at Brockport 8-7 Wednesday night.
“It was another one of those defensive battles, much like the semifinal game last year,” head coach Joey May said. “It was nice to see the composure of our guys. We kept our cool, trusted our teammates and ran hard with the ball in our sticks.”
After having its season cut short last year by losing to Brockport in the semifinal, the Cardinals outlasted the Golden Eagles this year and sent them home early.
“I had a feeling going into our first game against Brockport (this season), that the winner of that game is going to win the next game,” May said. “We play really close games and it has been for a couple years now.”
Now, the Cards will get another chance at top seed Cortland in this year’s championship game.
“The guys know it’s a business trip,” May said. “They’re a really good team, but so are we. We can’t go into this game saying, ‘We have to beat Cortland.’ We just need to make the little plays and stay out of the penalty box, and those are some things we have been preaching all year so it
has made playing with that style easy for them.”
PSUC lost 12-9 to Cortland in the final game of the regular season only a week ago. Now, the Cards are looking to even things up and take the upper-hand in a game that holds far more significance than the last one.
“We know who Cortland is, and they know who we are,” May said. “As long as we compete and play hard, the rest will take care of itself.”
For the seniors on the team, it has been quite a journey to get to this point in their careers, and there is nothing they want more than to bring home PSUC’s first ever men’s lacrosse SUNYAC championship.
“The mark of a great team is a team that is not reliant on one sole player,” May said. “They know that the opportunity is there. They know that if they work hard then we can overcome it because we have come so close in the past.”
Two seniors in particular that have gone through the program and are vocal leaders on and off the field are attacks Logan Lamothe and Ryan Wilson.
In order to prepare for the final game of their collegiate careers, they know that it is most important to keep a strong mentality and not to overestimate or underestimate themselves, or their opponent.
“One of the biggest things is to make sure that everyone is on the same page,” Lamothe said. “We are constantly talking about not getting too high and not getting too low. Being able to play relaxed and good, clean lacrosse for a full 60 minutes is what it’s going to take to beat Cortland.”
Eager to end their season celebrating a SUNYAC championship, it is stressed throughout the team not to overthink things and to play the game like they normally do.
“Once we get out there, everything settles down,” Lamothe said. “The idea of losing is unsettling, but we can’t let it impact our game. We know what’s at stake, and we know what we have to do in order to be successful.”
Last time against the Red Dragons, the Cards stayed out of the penalty box for most of the game, only accumulating 90 seconds spent down a man. Despite the clean play, it will undoubtedly be another physical battle between the top seeded teams this weekend.
“It’s important to not lose our strong mentality,” Wilson said. “We are a focused group and we all have each other’s backs, so it makes everything easier for all of us.”
As a whole, PSUC has a lot to feel good about after its strong season to this point. Gearing to the future, the seniors have done a lot to help ease the younger players into the system.
“There are so many things that we’ve learned from one another that we want to pass on,” Wilson said about his class. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve always thought, ‘Why not us?’ If they play the game we always play then everything will be fine.”
After a low scoring, competitive affair with Brockport earlier in the week, PSUC will have to get on a bus to travel one last time on the season. The Cards were 3-3 away from home this season, but the trip to Cortland is a familiar one.
“We just have to play the game quarter-by-quarter,” Wilson said. “I think this season has been great, and coming off of our season last year it is a great feeling.”
The championship game is on tab for Saturday 1 p.m., where the Cards will be taking on the Red Dragons in Cortland.
“I’m very happy that I get another day with this team,” May said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with this group. There are a lot of good players and great kids on this team.”
Email Ezra Kachaturian at email@example.com