Sunday, May 19, 2024

Men’s lacrosse refocus after SUNYAC loss to Cortland

Midfielder Logan Jones plays against Russell Sage March 1. Jones collected three ground balls in the Cardinals’ game against the Cortland Red Dragons.

 

By Michael Purtell

The Plattsburgh State Cardinals hit its first roadblock in fighting for a SUNYAC Championship  Tournament spot: the Cortland Red Dragons’ hot offense.

The Cardinals (4-6, 0-1) lost its conference opening game against Cortland (5-3, 2-0) 9-25 in Cortland March 30. Despite a hat trick from junior attacker Donald Woods, the Cardinals were unable to rally past an early Red Dragon lead.

Cortland scored a statement goal in the opening seconds of the game. Another goal within the first five minutes gave the Red Dragons a position it maintained for the rest of the game.

By the end of the first quarter, Cortland was up 5-1. By the end of the half, the score was 13-2.

“No matter the score, we’re not going to stop fighting,” Woods said. “That’s the mentality we’ve installed in our heads for SUNYAC play.”

In the second half of the game, Plattsburgh regained its composure and started finding the net, with seven of its nine goals coming in this time, but Cortland never let up. The 25 points the Red Dragons ended with was its highest this season, and is tied for the most goals Cortland has scored over the Cardinals.

In the loss, Woods scored three goals in eight shots, registering his third hat trick in 10 games. His other two came when he made his first appearance of the season against Norwich Feb. 21 and when the Cards faced Canton a week later, Feb. 28. 

Last season, Woods scored three goals total in a reduced role, playing 10 games and starting none. This season, his development as a leader and an offensive player has been hard to ignore, Jones said.

“After last season, I went into the summer and the offseason with the mindset of I’m going out onto the field and I’m doing the best I can to help my team,” Woods said. “As a whole team we are putting in the work, on and off the field, to get better.”

Senior attacker John Eiseman notched two goals in seven shots. After back-to-back five-goal games against Johnson & Wales University Providence and New England College, he extended his current multi-goal streak to three games.

So far, Eiseman has scored two or more goals in seven of the 10 games the Cardinals have played.

The rest of the Cardinals’ goals against Cortland came from junior midfielder Ely Bruhns, first-year defender Timmy Wood, first-year attacker Dylan Irvine and senior attacker Anthony Faber, who scored one goal each.

Sophomore midfielder Tim Keenan tied Woods for a team-high three points. Keenan recorded three of the Cardinals’ four assists, all of which came in the second half of the game.

Senior midfielder Chris Falborn recorded the unaccounted assist. It marked his first of the season.

Junior defender Kyle Ruland led both teams and tied his collegiate high in recovered ground balls with eight. It is the second time he reached the mark this season.

As a defender, you have to be able to set a tone by using your physicality to fight for ground balls. The importance of a ground ball is simple: “Without the ball, you can’t score. If you can’t score, you can’t win,” Ruland said.

Despite Ruland’s eight, the Red Dragons led the game in ground balls 57-33, a tough statistic

to overcome.

The Red Dragons have been the picture of consistency, qualifying for the NCAA Championship Tournament every year since 2001 and winning the tournament twice over that span in 2006 and 2009. With the win this season, Cortland moves up 27-1 on the Cardinals in all-time matchups dating back to 2000.

The Cardinals’ lone win was the 2017 SUNYAC Championship. Since then, the Red Dragons have had the Cardinals number, winning the last three matchups by double digits.

The Cardinals  are careful to ensure it upholds its standard of play even when facing such conference juggernauts. Plattsburgh was focused on playing “Plattsburgh lacrosse,” Jones said. Plattsburgh lacrosse includes communicating on the field and playing physical defense.

Plattsburgh hasn’t made the conference tournament since 2019, but the team is looking to snap that streak this year. The loss on opening night stings, but Plattsburgh will have to keep its eyes on the next game in order to improve on last year’s conference record.

“We’re looking to compete through the rest of the year,” Ruland said. “Everyone should stay tuned for what’s up next.”

Oneonta will be the next conference rival to face the Cards, and it will be the first to do so on Plattsburgh’s home field 1 p.m. Saturday, April 6.

 

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