Avery Durgan (6) and Ella Santomassimo (18) celebrate Durgan’s goal against RPI Sept. 9. Cardinals women’s soccer have secured their first SUNYAC win against Oswego, and hope to make a late-season run.
Nora Fitzgerald (front right) fights a Brockport Golden Eagle for possession of the ball Sept. 23. Fitzgerald is tied for the team lead in goals with three and scored the winner against Oswego.
By Jayson Gaston
The Plattsburgh Cardinals women’s soccer team was looking to get back on track against conference rivals, the Oswego Lakers. SUNYAC games always have added context, but there was even more motivation for the Cardinals this season, as the Lakers eliminated the Cardinals in the playoffs last year.
The Cardinals defeated the Lakers 1-0 in Oswego Sept. 30. This is the Cardinals’ first conference win of the season.
A tightly contested game throughout its duration, the Cardinals showed resilience against a tough team. The teams were essentially equal throughout the first half as each team got four shots on goal, none of them resulting in a score. The tie was broken in the second half as in the 65th minute senior forward Nora Fitzgerald scored off an assist from junior midfielder Jessica Mare.
The Cardinals’ defense held strong against the Lakers’ offense in the second half, holding them scoreless in the second half despite facing five shots on goal. The Cardinals’ defense, led by junior Goalkeeper Lauren Haley, put up its third shutout in four games despite a depleted backfield, with Kayla Myers and Casey Granger missing the game.
“Defense wins games — that’s no secret,” Haley said. “We practice hard. Everyone on our team is ready to go.”
The win boosted the Cardinals’ record to 3-3-3 as it finished out a string of conference games that included a 0-2 loss against New Paltz Sept. 27 and 0-0 ties against Brockport Sept. 23 and Potsdam Sept. 20. The team knew how important it was to get a win at Oswego.
“Going into the game, I think the team was ready to fight. I think that we’ve been knocking on the door for the past three SUNYAC games having two zero-zero ties and not putting [in] goals. We were itching for one,” Head Coach Whitney Frary said. “During the game, we just fought hard. I think grit is a great way to describe how we were played. We fought for every inch.”
Resilience and hard work were themes for the team during preparation for the game. Fitzgerald, who scored the lone goal for the Cardinals, was proud of the team’s work ethic.
“We worked really hard in practice before the game, we knew how important it was to score,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald also complemented the defense and the players who had to step in for some unavailable starters.
“Our depth really helped us. We had two key defenders out of the lineup, who usually play the full 90 minutes. Players were able to come in and help get the win,” Fitzgerald said.
Granger and Myers both missed their first game of the season against Oswego. Their positions were covered by senior Jessica Landman and sophomore Alexis Patrick. Landman made her first collegiate start.
The Cards dropped a non-conference matchup against the St. Lawrence Saints 1-3 Wednesday, Oct. 4. Senior midfielder Sophia Hatziyianis scored Plattsburgh’s only goal of the game. The loss won’t have much implication for the postseason as the team enters the second half of the SUNYAC season.
Plattsburgh now looks ahead as they focus on a conference game against the Fredonia Blue Devils on Saturday, Oct. 7. The Fredonia game will also mark Senior Day for the Cardinals. Frary is feeling good about the team’s mindset going into the weekend.
“Scoring that goal and getting over that hump made us feel like, ‘yeah, we’re good,’ and instilled that confidence in us,” Frary said. “Fredonia will be Senior Day as well. We’ll have 10 seniors starting and I think having them all play together will be fun.”