Nora Fitzgerald is embraced by teammates after her playoff-sealing goal against Oneonta at the Field House Oct. 18.
By Jayson Gaston
The Plattsburgh Cardinals women’s soccer team, already having secured a playoff berth, set out to finish its conference season strong and continue gaining momentum. The Cardinals beat the Geneseo Knights 1-0 on the road Saturday, Oct. 21. The Cardinals’ record now stands at 7-4-5 and 4-1-4 in conference play. The Knights fell to 6-3-7 with their first conference loss of the season.
With the win, the Cardinals secured the number three seed in the SUNYAC. The win also secured the Cardinals home field in its first playoff game.
The first half saw the game being tightly contested as both the Cardinals and the Knights came out aggressive on offense. This included senior defender Zoe Rice getting up a shot in the first 30 seconds of the game and the Knights putting up seven of their 11 total first-half shots in a seven-minute span. However, none of these shots resulted in a goal, as the Cardinals put up a stellar defense, including three first-half saves from junior goalkeeper Lauren Haley.
The teams continued to go back and forth going into the second half. The Cardinals’ defense remained strong as they held the Knights scoreless in the half despite seven more shots in the half from the Knights. The Cardinals broke the stalemate in the 83rd minute with a goal from senior forward Avery Durgan, her fifth of the year. Junior midfielder Catrina Maltes assisted the goal, her first assist of the year.
The Cardinals’ defense held up the Knights in the final minutes to secure the win for the Cardinals. This was their first win against the Knights since 2015.
Nora Fitzgerald (4) chases down a ball against RPI at the Field House Sept. 9.
The win was the second straight for the Cardinals in a 2-0 week, including a 2-0 win over the Oneonta Red Dragons Oct. 21. Durgan and Haley both received SUNYAC Women’s Soccer Offensive and Defensive Athlete of the Week honors for their performances in recent games.
Durgan has taken a step up offensively with three goals in the last three games of the season, as well as the rest of the offense. She knows what’s changed in weeks past.
“I feel that in the past few games, I have really been focusing on my attack. At practice, we have been focusing a lot on crossing and finishing and I feel that for me the practices have definitely been carrying over a lot into games,” Durgan said. “Our team chemistry is amazing and everyone is super supportive of one another, which I feel keeps us a step ahead of any other team.”
Durgan also commented on how her teammate Haley, who picked up her second consecutive and seventh total shutout on the season versus the Knights, is this effective in the game.
“Lauren’s been playing amazing and helps set the dynamic through her high energy and supportive and encouraging words,” Durgan said about the goalkeeper. “She is a workhorse and is constantly trying to improve play every time she steps on the field.”
With three wins in the last five games, the Cardinals have been heating up in the past few weeks. Head Coach Whitney Frary talked about what has made the team so effective.
“I think a big piece is that we’ve really been focusing on the details, ensuring up those little pieces and continuing to develop our style of play,” Frary said. “Our offense is starting to score goals and our defense is really difficult to get scored on and it’s really a team effort right now.”
The Cardinals closed out its season with a win against the Canton Kangaroos 6-0 Tuesday, Oct. 24. This win solidified the team’s momentum as they now look ahead to their playoff matchup, a rematch versus the Knights tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 28.