By Collin Bolebruch
When there is seemingly nothing left to lose, there is everything left to gain. Sitting at the bottom of the SUNYAC standings, the Plattsburgh Cardinals men’s lacrosse team played out their final two games last week.
The Cardinals (3-12, 0-6 SUNYAC) faced the home team Potsdam Bears (5-7, 2-4 SUNYAC), and lost 10-14. On April 27, The game was the second-to-last of the season and had no playoff implications for the Cards.
Again, Plattsburgh’s defense shone in the dark cloud of a loss. For the first time since the April 12 win over Russell Sage, the Cardinals had fewer turnovers than their opponent, with 17 to Potsdam’s 18. Plattsburgh also recorded more shots than Potsdam with 41 to its 39 and more face-off wins with 16 to its 12.
“We were definitely good. I think there was 10 minutes of that game where we gave them a couple goals,” goalie Chris Bassi said. “That was just some mental lapses and a couple bad goals that I gave up, but besides that for 50 minutes of the game we were playing really well. We got a lot of turnovers, making them throw the ball away. I think that was one of our better games so far this year.”
Captain midfielder Stephen Kane led the Cardinals in goals with four, followed closely by midfielder Zach Gill and attacker John Eiseman with two each. Gill also recorded two assists, second only to midfielder Gustav Rugg’s three. Long-stick midfielder Julian Pigliavento and defenseman Justin Rocovich each logged two caused turnovers.
“I think a lot of [the loss] was that we kind of came out slow. We gave them five points right off the rip, so I think that kind of just put us in a hole, which we were having trouble to fight out of. And on face-offs too, we kind of luckily at the end of the game we started to dominate,” Rocovich said. “I thought we played well the rest of the game. And then let up two or three open net goals at the end just trying to get the ball back, was tough.”
Just three days after the loss, on April 30, Plattsburgh was back at home to play the New Paltz Hawks (3-11, 1-6 SUNYAC) for the Cardinals’ last game of the season and Senior Day and won 14-10.
On that day, the Cardinals observed its 14 seniors: Christian Bassi, Andrew Braverman, Max Burgio, Zach Gill, Stephen Kane, Brendan Heggers, Billy Lombardi, Pete Mullen, Justin Rocovich, James Schulze, Tanner Tobias, Matt Trypaluk, Daniel Umbro and Connor Wolff.
“I would have to say New Paltz is probably one of my favorite games to remember. It was like the first time the team was actually all playing for each other, having each other’s backs and little things were starting to click,” Rocovich said. “It was the first time we went out there to have fun and have each other’s backs and I think that’s a big part moving into next season. I think that was a good way to go out, on a win. That’s something to stick with me for a pretty long time, especially since it was my Senior Day, so that was special.”
After a down season like this, the only place left to go is up. Before that happens, though, it is important to reflect on one’s own failures. Bassi emphasized effort when acknowledging the season’s letdowns.
“[The biggest lesson learned] is never giving up. We’ve played a lot of teams that have just beat down on us pretty badly and I think going out there and playing for your teammates and playing for your close friends and stuff like that regardless of the score just giving forth our best effort and just trying to have the most fun we can,” Bassi said.
Rocovich agreed with the sentiment, claiming that the culture had changed a lot during the season due to the roster turnover. Over the last two years, he said, the group hadn’t been together much and that overcoming adversity was the biggest lesson to be learned.
Looking towards the future, Bassi rang praise for the abundance of freshmen that played this season. With 12 new players joining the team next season, younger players are going to need to step into leadership roles. Rocovich agreed with the notion.
“I think we’ve left [the younger guys] in a good spot. I think we did what we could as seniors and leaders” Rocovich said they know what they need to do now. It’s just who’s going to step up and lead this team next year, who wants to make the big plays, and who wants to be that guy.”