Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Game-winners propel Cards to second place in SUNYAC

The SUNY Plattsburgh men’s soccer team improved its SUNYAC record last weekend with two game-winners against SUNY Geneseo and The College at Brockport.

Last weekend, the Cardinals played a pair of road games and started with Geneseo.

Plattsburgh State was off to a slow start as it was outshot 6-3 to Geneseo in the first half. With their final shot of the period, the Knights went on the board first with a goal by sophomore forward James Perrone in the 44th minute of the half.

Trailing to start the second half is a familiar sight for head coach Chris Taylor. Out of 11 contests this season, the Cards were behind five times entering the second half. SUNY Plattsburgh only went on to win one of those games.

“We switched off with 30 seconds left in the first half and gave up a goal,” head coach Chris Taylor said. “We’ve been behind a lot this year, and we haven’t really been able to come back, and so you’re starting to question a lot of things.”

The Cards also had to deal with injuries while facing Geneseo in junior defender Luke Rapaport, who played 12 minutes before being replaced by senior Joe Gula. Junior Defender Chris McGovern was taken out in the first overtime period due to injury and was inactive the next game. Defenders Andrew Bravemen and Christian Garner also missed the second game of the weekend due to injuries sustained in the first match.

Taylor feels the players who came off the bench performed “unbelievably,” and approached the opportunities with a lot of energy.

Geneseo shot eight more attempts in the second half but weren’t able to connect. The Knights shot a volley of four attempts within a minute and a half toward the middle of the period. Two attempts were on goal and were saved by Wilson.

The Cards took five shots themselves in the second half and were in danger of losing the game before senior forward Chris Robertson tied the game with a header with 18 seconds remaining.

Plattsburgh State headed into the first overtime period with a 6-2 edge on corner kicks against Geneseo. The Cards added to their advantage in corner kicks and took two more shots to Geneseo’s zero attempts in the extra period, however neither team added any more goals.

Because of injuries, sophomore defender Joseph Ditillo was put into the game during the third period. Ditillo played a total of 27 minutes between two games this season before he was subbed in. His performance in the overtime period, Taylor said, is what helped keep Geneseo at bay.

“He’s barely played,” Taylor said about Ditillo. “He came on and had an effect on the game. He brought a ton of energy; he played with a lot of confidence.”

SUNY Plattsburgh held Geneseo to zero shot attempts again in the final overtime period. With 22 seconds remaining, the Cards were given another corner kick.

Rapaport let the game clock wind down to 14 seconds before he sent a corner kick from right field that found its way by Gula’s feet. Gula adjusted the ball and kicked it past Geneseo’s goalie and into the top right corner of the net. It was the game-winner as Plattsburgh State beat Geneseo 2-1.

The Cards played the following day against Brockport at the A. Huntley Parker Jr. Field.

The first half was scoreless for both teams, but the Golden Eagles were aggressive from the start. Brockport shot five straight attempts before SUNY Plattsburgh could take a shot of its own and were outshot 11-3 in the first half.

The second period featured less action with seven shot attempts between both teams, but only one mattered in the end, and it was from freshman forward Cole Weiner, who scored his fifth goal of the season in the 76th minute of the game.

Brockport tried to tie the game with a shot in the 89th minute but was saved by junior goalkeeper Ryan Wilson.

After the pair of wins last weekend, Taylor said the team’s spirits were uplifted, especially how the bench players performed in a pinch.

“A couple of guys who played a lot said to the group that the bench and the technically reserved players won us the weekend, because without them, we would’ve been screwed,” Taylor said.

The Cards are now 3-1 in conference play and are in second place in the SUNYAC standings with nine points and is behind 3-0 SUNY Oneonta.

Taylor is delighted with his team’s performance and what it could mean for the conference standings.

“Taking the six points, especially on the road, is extremely difficult,” Taylor said. “We [had] a lot of ups and downs on the weekend, but you can’t underestimate the six points because it just doesn’t happen that often for anyone, so it can vault you up the league.”

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