Last Wednesday, the Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team watched its SUNYAC title hopes diminish as the clock wound down on the home turf of the Oneonta Red Dragons. Right when the Cards thought it was time to hang up their cleats for the season, they were presented with a miraculous second chance.

Five days after their devastating playoff loss, the Cards received news that they had been selected for the at-large bid on Monday. With this opportunity, PSUC will face off against the Bowdoin College Polar Bears this Saturday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The last time the Cards made the NCAA tournament, they did so by winning the SUNYAC championship in 2013.

That year’s team ended its season with an astonishing 15-6-1 record. However, just because this year’s team was not able to capture the title doesn’t mean it is inferior to its 2013 counterpart.

This year, the Cards ended their season with a 14-4-3, relatively similar to that of the 2013 SUNYAC champions. The team is aware of the talent it has and is still working toward winning every game.

“Getting that bid was a gift,” senior midfielder Nelson Vetter said, “and we are by no means going to take it for granted.”

After receiving the bid, the team has developed the mindset that it havs something to prove. Just because it was given a second chance doesn’t mean it should be taken any less seriously as a team in this tournament.

PSUC looks to make a big statement in their first battle against the Polar Bears.

“We’re going to go after them,” head coach Chris Waterbury said, “just like we go after every team we face.”

Throughout the season, Waterbury has instilled the ideals in his players and staff that it doesn’t matter whom they take the field with. Every game starts at 0-0; therefore every game has a chance to be won. It is this constant hunger and desire that drove the Cards to various victories throughout the season.

In their first regular season skirmish with Oneonta, the Cards were somewhat of an underdog. The Red Dragons had been known to be a consistently good team and the experience would lead them to victory against the new powerhouse that the Cards were becoming.

That same game, Fabian Chaparro suffered an elbow injury and it was uncertain when he would return, but the Cards’ hunger and desire kept them pushing towards adding more wins to their record. PSUC was able to battle through adversity then and they hope to bring these memories along with many others along with them on their NCAA tournament ventures.

Despite not capturing the SUNAYC tournament title, the Cards still have some of the top talent in the conference, which will prove to be helpful in their endeavors. For the underclassmen, this experience has been a testament to hard work paying off. It should drive them to always play to the best of their ability knowing that each and every win can make a difference at the end of a season.

“I’m just enjoying the ride,” freshmen Christian Ohanian said. “We earned this spot.”

The future is uncertain for the Cards, just like the rest of the teams competing in the tournament, but one thing is certain: PSUC will continue to play with the heart, hunger and desire that has brought them to this point in the season.

Email Kevin Morley at kevin.morley@cardinalpointsonline.com

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