The Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team continues its impressive season after defeating Potsdam 2-0 Saturday, its first SUNYAC matchup of the year.
With a record of 8-1 at the midpoint in the season, the Cardinals are currently third in the SUNYAC standings prior to this weekend’s games against Oswego and Cortland, both of which are on the road.
“Playing against SUNYAC teams on the road is hard,” head coach Chris Waterbury said. “If you can get wins on the road, it’s huge.”
In last year’s meetings against these two teams, they were at home. The Cards tied Cortland 0-0 and defeated Oswego 4-1. PSUC will be challenged by facing these two teams on the road, however, they feel good about how they will perform this weekend.
This weekend series will mark the first time PSUC will face two opponents in less than 24 hours, making the week in preparation very important.
“We’ve had a pretty good week of practice,” Waterbury said. “However, as the fatigue sets in, it’s important for the guys to have the mentality of ‘next man up,’ and I think we are a deep team so now it’s our time to show that.”
In the Cards’ recent games, Waterbury has had to rearrange the defense due to the injury sustained by senior Nick Economou that caused freshman Joseph Gula to step in and fulfil his role.
“Each week, he just keeps getting better and better,” Waterbury said. “By getting John LaTouche, Nick Economou and Joseph Gula on the field at the same time, it really gives us an athletic defensive presence.”
Gula’s contributions on defense kept him in the lineup when Economou returned from his injury, leaving Waterbury to decide to move Economou up to the midfield position and to keep Gula’s active presence on the defensive line.
“He got me moved up to center-mid instead of me playing center-back, so, thank you, Joey,” Economou said with a laugh. “He’s definitely stepped it up, and against St. Lawrence he almost scored twice, maybe three times.”
The strong output and commitment put in by the freshman and sophomores this season has been something the upperclassmen have been able to feed off of, forming a strong mix between all of the players.
“The younger kids are not as far off as say, one of the seniors,” Economou said. “They can come in the game, start playing, and act like they’ve been on the team for a while. I really like how they come in and are ready to work.”
With Economou being one of the six seniors on the team, their leadership is important for the younger players, especially in games against conference opponents where their experience against these teams can help those who have never experienced a SUNYAC weekend.
“Every game in the SUNYACs is a battle, and all of the new kids are going to learn that this weekend,” Economou said. “Each game we have to come out playing hard. SUNYAC games are big. It’s a fun time of the year, honestly.”
PSUC will have a quick turnaround in order to prepare for their next game on Saturday.
“This weekend will be a lot harder being that there are two games in 21 hours,” Waterbury said. “I expect them to be tight, tough games and will be hard to deal with.”
Email Ezra Kachaturian at email@example.com