Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Cards survive on Senior Day

(From left to right) Seniors Frankie Palumbo, Dylan Shalvey, Marcial Vasquez, Matthew Pitarresi, Jack Healy and Kevin Abbondanza.

 

By Collin Bolebruch

As Plattsburgh Cardinals men’s soccer reaches the apex of its season, it dedicated a game to its senior players. The team’s six seniors were honored for their contributions over the years and leadership roles this season. In the midst of playoff contention, the Cardinals (7-2-4, SUNYAC 2-2-3) lost 1-3 to the in-conference Buffalo State Bengals (9-3-2, SUNYAC 4-3). The loss put Plattsburgh on the outside looking in.

Plattsburgh won the shots battle, something true in both of its losses this year, 14-9. The Cardinals earned five corner kicks to the Bengals’ one. The game was messy with 25 total fouls and eight cards handed out. The Cards are now 2-8 against the Bengals in its last 10 matchups. 

The Cardinals were locked in. Captains Jack Healy and Dylan Shalvey, Kevin Abbondanza, Matthew Pitaressi, Frankie Palumbo and Marcial Vasquez took the field with their loved ones prior to the game, opting to forgo signs or other decorations.

Plattsburgh came into the game off the heels of its first loss of the season, 0-2 to No. 11 Cortland Oct. 11 in a SUNYAC contest. In a competitive conference, every game matters. The game against the Bengals felt personal.

The tone of the game was physical and emotional and was set early, when a collision stopped play at the 17:56 mark. Defender Christian Garner, going for a ball, made contact head-to-head with a Bengal in the air. The Bengal walked off the field bleeding and Garner received medical attention on the field, not returning to play.

Neither team saw much offensive opportunity in the first half. By the time the clock hit halftime, the Bengals and Cardinals had four shots each.

Plattsburgh came into the game off the heels of its first loss of the season, 0-2 to No. 11 Cortland Oct. 11 in a SUNYAC contest. In a competitive conference, every game matters. The game against the Bengals felt personal.

The tone of the game was physical and emotional and was set early, when a collision stopped play at the 17:56 mark. Defender Christian Garner, going for a ball, made contact head-to-head with a Bengal in the air. The Bengal walked off the field bleeding and Garner received medical attention on the field, not returning to play.

Neither team saw much offensive opportunity in the first half. By the time the clock hit halftime, the Bengals and Cardinals had four shots each.

Plattsburgh was visibly frustrated by the game’s officiating, barking or throwing their hands up after a contested call. One Bengal cursed in Portuguese to avoid repercussions. Things started to get chippy with Buffalo State.

The Cardinals were tired of the deliberation. Minutes into the second half, midfielder John Hayes sent the ball to wing Connor Howe on the close left corner of the penalty box. With just the goalie to beat, Howe kept the ball on the ground and sent it into the lower right pocket. The first-year then did a cartwheel into a backflip to celebrate his first career goal, soon to be mobbed by celebrating teammates.

By Collin Bolebruch

Connor Howe (24) celebrates his first career goal with teammates Oct. 14.

Plattsburgh followed up this effort with three consecutive corner kicks, keeping the ball on the Buffalo State side of the field. It resulted in just one shot. A foul on wing Modou Badjie sent momentum the other way.

It was here that tensions started to boil over. Four yellow cards were handed out in five minutes.

Shalvey received a yellow and a foul for a play around midfield. Hayes was substituted out a minute after getting his, soon to return.

Forty seconds after Hayes left the field, Buffalo State forward Manu Prieto scored, getting past Plattsburgh goalkeeper Teddy Healy. The Cardinals didn’t like that. Healy and Bengals forward Frank Colella got into it, having to be separated by teammates and referees. Both were given a yellow.

The tug-of-war continued over the next 10 minutes. A Buffalo State shot missed high and a Plattsburgh shot out right. Badjie picked up another three fouls and the Bengals were called for three offsides. Jack Healy got a yellow.

Seventy minutes into the contest, Buffalo State blew open the floodgates. Teddy Healy went for the ball outside the goal box, but Bengals forward Diego Rivera maintained possession. On the ground, he watched the ball go in behind him. Rivera scored again a minute and a half later.

Plattsburgh went down swinging. The Cards dominated possession for the rest of the game. Within two minutes of the last score, Hayes shot twice. Head Coach Chris Taylor has described him as an animal, hating to lose.

Buffalo State was twice called for offsides. The Bengals had 11 offsides on the day. Its late mistakes allowed the Cardinals opportunities to get back into the game.

Forward Brian Coughlan, on a corner kick, sent the ball to the goal box, missing headers up high. Jack Healy got it at his feet, looking at an open bottom left corner. His attempt was wide, and it was the best chance Plattsburgh had at closing the deficit. Every Cardinal had his head in his hands.

Plattsburgh had three more shots, including a Coughlan rocket saved high. Buffalo attempted only one. Two more yellow cards were handed out to Bengals. Wirt, when he got the ball, did somersaults on it or dribbled in place. His teammates yelled at him.

The game ended on a sour note. Shalvey was handed a red card when time expired for a non-physical act. He was disqualified for the team’s next contest against Oneonta, Wednesday, Oct. 18. The Cardinals, the seniors especially, showed maturity exiting the pitch, shaking hands and keeping their emotions at bay.

This year’s class has played only three seasons. It’s the last from the COVID-19-affected 2020 season and the first that Taylor’s staff recruited themselves. Taylor said this class has been through more than anyone, and it’s made them tougher. The seniors’ experience has put them all in leadership roles this season, whether they’re captains or not.

“They’re guys that come in and do their work every day,” Taylor said. “They lead by example. They’re all super hard workers. They’re all super committed to the program, they live and breathe it. They’re good role models.”

By Collin Bolebruch

Head Coach Chris Taylor aims to make his fourth playoff run.

Vasquez, the backup goalie, is an emotional leader for the team. He wants to see the underclassmen work hard to continue their mission.

“I hope they see us working hard. I know they’re young and still have to focus a little bit. Seeing us gone, some of them have to step up,” Vasquez said.

The rocky road has bonded the group forever. These short four years will ring with them for the rest of their lives.

“My soccer career means everything to me. I’ve learned so many things that I’m going to take throughout my future,” Abbondanza said. “My teammates, I love them. I would do anything for them.”

Their careers aren’t over yet.  Five teams, Cortland, Brockport, Oneonta, Buffalo State and New Paltz, have all secured their spots in the playoffs. Plattsburgh saved its season with a 1-1 tie against the nationally-ranked No. 15 Oneonta Red Dragons (12-2-1). 

By not losing, the Cardinals are now in a two-man race against the Geneseo Knights. The Cards and the Knights face off in Plattsburgh tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 21. The winner takes the last spot.

 

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