Unfortunately for the Plattsburgh State lacrosse team, history repeated itself.
The Cardinals were defeated by Cortland in the SUNYAC championship for the third straight season Saturday, this time by a score of 14-12.
A championship loss is devastating under any circumstances, but that pain is definitely amplified when it is for the third consecutive year. Head coach Ryan Cavanagh is proud of the season his squad put together, but he acknowledged the fact that it was a bit of a tough pill to swallow, and that his team could have gone deeper into the postseason.
“I felt like we had so much more lacrosse to play,” Cavanagh said.
“We were playing such great lacrosse as a team, it is a shame that it went down as it did. That’s the way it goes though and that is why you play.”
The game itself looked as if it may be a blowout, with Cortland taking a 12-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Cavanagh is proud of his players for storming back and making it close, even if they did fall a bit short.
“I am so proud of the way our guys responded,” Cavanagh said. “Fighting back the way they did was awesome, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Brendan Damm had arguably the best season any individual has put together in PSUC’s lacrosse program history. The All-American junior finished the season with a mind-boggling 84 points, an outstanding number that has not been reached in the SUNYAC since Cortland attackman Ryan Heath tallied 101 in 2008, and never reached before at PSUC. Heath has since gone on to play professionally in the MLL, and while that may be an option for Damm in the future, he still has another year as a Cardinal to bring the SUNYAC championship to PSUC.
Damm is humble regarding his individual success and said that while he knows how great he played, he was as bothered as Cavanagh by the way things turned out in the SUNYAC tournament.
“Coming so close the last two years — last year by a goal this year by two — it just hurts, it definitely really hurts,” Damm said. “Our third quarter kind of killed us, and the comeback at the end just ran out of time.”
Senior James Read had quite an impressive season himself. Honored as a first team all SUNYAC selection, and what Cavanagh believes should be followed later on by an All-American nod, Read led the conference in assists and finished the season third in total points. He feels the entire season was a high point, and that while they ultimately did not come home with the trophy, they had a season to remember.
“I will never forget our overall teams demeanor and how hard we fought no matter what the circumstances were,” Read said. “Regardless of what happened, we just put our heads down and kept working and working.”
Read’s dominant presence on the field dominance will definitely be missed, but that is the epitome of college athletics: guys have to leave eventually and new players come in trying to fill small roles, while current players move up the team hierarchy and accept larger ones. Cavanagh said the class he has recruited so far is full of talent and has two players with accolades not seen before from a PSUC lacrosse recruit.
“We actually are getting two guys who are high school All-Americans,” Cavanagh said. “That is something we have never had before.”
Since he took over as head coach for the Cards, Cavanagh has brought the program to a whole new level. For the last few seasons they have been nipping at the heel of the SUNYAC-dominating Cortland, and the additon of a strong recruiting class, the return of one of the nation’s top players and underclassmen ready to step into bigger roles, may make next year might just be the year they reach the top.
Email Bailey Carlin at email@example.com