It was a busy day at the Field House Soccer/Lacrosse Complex Saturday afternoon with multiple ceremonies on the field, and there was a soccer game, too.
A 1-0 loss to SUNY New Paltz (10-5-1, 5-2-1) a day after a 1-1 tie with SUNY Oneonta (9-3-4, 5-1-2) left the the Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team (6-6-3, 3-3-1) to fight for a playoff berth on the road in the final regular-season weekend.
The weekend started relatively well for PSUC. In a tight defensive affair against Oneonta, one of the top teams in the SUNYAC, it was the Cards who found the back of the net first, off freshman defenseman Michael Grald’s first career goal midway through the second half.
A defensive-zone turnover less than 10 minutes later tied the game up for the Red Dragons. PSUC head coach Chris Taylor was more concerned about the manner in which that goal was scored.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to stop conceding,” Taylor said. “We went on a good run earlier this season of not conceding, but we’re letting in some silly goals at this point. Both goals this weekend were preventable.”
After two scoreless overtime periods, the match ended in a draw, with Oneonta outshooting the Cards 25-13.
Saturday’s game featured two on-field ceremonies in addition to the game. Before the game, the team honored its seniors, who were playing their final home SUNYAC game. At halftime, the team then recognized the newest members of the Plattsburgh State Athletics Hall of Fame.
One of those inductees was former head coach Chris Waterbury, who retired last season as the winningest coach in SUNYAC history. Junior defenseman Joe Gula was happy to see Waterbury honored, as his father played in Waterbury’s first two seasons at Plattsburgh before he then played in the coach’s final two years.
The game against New Paltz was another defensive contest, but this time the Hawks came out as 1-0 victors. While shots were even at 10-10, PSUC left the game happy with how they had maintained possession for the majority of the game.
“We lost our cool at moments,” Gula said. “Honestly, I think they had two solid opportunities in the game, and they scored on one of them. It’s hard to look at that and say they deserved that win. We definitely dominated for 70 percent of the game.”
Taylor agreed that his team had the better scoring opportunities in the game, but acknowledged that the Cards needed to do better to get on the scoreboard.
“We have no problem getting into the final third, but we’re not testing goalkeepers enough,” Taylor said. “We don’t have that composure make that final pass, get that final cross, put the ball in the box or make the runs in the box.”
PSUC finished off its home schedule Tuesday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over the Kangaroos of SUNY Canton. The goals were scored by senior midfielder Taka Fukushima, freshman midfielder Ankit Patel and senior forward Alex Price.
The weekend’s results mean that PSUC can no longer earn home field in the SUNYAC playoffs, and will need to win this weekend to avoid dropping out of playoff position altogether. Otherwise, SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Oswego, who play each other this weekend, are both positioned to potentially leap ahead of the Cards.
PSUC’s first game of the road trip will be at Buffalo State (8-4-2, 3-3-1), the other direct rival in the four-team battle for two playoff positions.
“Buffalo State is a really hard place to play,” Taylor said. “It’s a small pitch — a football field with a very fast turf. They’re a hard team; they were excellent last year, and they’re playing some good soccer right now.”
After that game, the Cards will travel southwest of Buffalo to cap off the regular season at SUNY Fredonia (4-9-1, 1-6-0). While the Blue Devils are already eliminated from playoff contention, Taylor has no plans to take the match lightly.
“Fredonia is always difficult,” Taylor said. “They’ve had their ups and downs this season, but they’re always a dangerous opponent. Traditionally, Plattsburgh has struggled with Fredonia.”
While PSUC can no longer earn home field in the SUNYAC playoffs, the team is still motivated to qualify, and the Cards are confident they can get results in the postseason.
“Last year, we were on the road in the playoffs, and we made it all the way to the finals,” Gula said. “We’re not a bad away team. We can play anywhere.”
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