Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Women’s soccer eliminated in tragic fashion

By Liam Sample

Heartbreaking is an understatement to describe the end of the Plattsburgh women’s soccer season. The Cardinals fell to the fifth seeded Oswego Lakers (9-5-4) 0-1 after two overtime periods at home in the first round of the SUNYAC Playoffs.

“It still feels not real,” graduate student Allison Seidman said. “Playing for this many years and now it just being done, it’s just a very difficult pill to swallow.”

Plattsburgh finished its 2022 campaign with a 11-6-2 total record and has not won a playoff game since 2019. 

The Cardinals entered the playoffs as the fourth seed, which awarded a home playoff game. Plattsburgh entered the playoffs on a five game conference winning streak, with one of those wins being against Oswego Oct. 8, by a score of 2-0.  

The nerves were apparent for both sides, as no shots were registered until nearly the 20th minute. Both teams would head into halftime with a scoreless deadlock and only six shots combined between the teams. 

“We started off slower  [in] the first half,” junior Nora Fitzgerald said. “So going into the second half, we were like ‘we’re going to forget about that half, move on and play better.’”

In between the posts, this game was a battle of young goaltenders. Sophomore Perri Anderson came into the game with a 8-5-4 record and a 1.03 goals allowed average. Anderson is in her first year at Oswego, after transferring from Pace University. 

For the Cardinals, sophomore Lauren Haley made the start, coming in with a 8-2-1 record and a .91 Goals Allowed Average. 

The second half saw much more offense between the teams. Oswego had many chances to try to go ahead, with one of its biggest coming off a Cardinal foul. Sophomore Emma Rechtrovic was awarded a direct pick from the penalty arc, which she attempted to put in the top corner of the net. Haley punched the ball out of the air, as she finished the half with five clutch saves. 

Plattsburgh had its opportunities too, graduate student Kirsten Villemaire had two shots in the last 10 minutes alone, one of which was on goal and got saved. Fitzgerald had four shots of her own, but could not convert. Ninety minutes would not be enough between the two rivals, and the game went to overtime. The overtime rules for Division III are two 10 minute periods, with no “golden goal.”

“I feel like I worked hard,” Fitzgerald said. “I obviously would have loved to finish some of my opportunities, but I didn’t leave the field regretting anything or feeling like I didn’t give it my all.”

Ryan Nista / Cardinal Points Ryan Nista

Villemaire and Seidman, who scored against Oswego in the game earlier in the season, both registered shots on goals in the first two and a half minutes of overtime. Anderson didn’t crack, saving both.

The Lakers laid the fatal blow 10 seconds before the 95-minute mark when Oswego drew a corner kick. Rather than putting the ball right into the penalty area, the Lakers completed a short lateral pass and then sent it on net. Graduate student Graisa Madden was there for the deflection to break the shutout and put Oswego 15 minutes from an underdog win.

“Once they scored, physically we were exhausted, but mentally, I was like, ‘What the heck? How are we going to bounce back,’” Villemaire said. “It was just because it was overtime that it made it seem so much more unreal to score.”

The goal effectively killed the Cardinals momentum, as Plattsburgh did not register a shot in the remainder of overtime. As the final whistle blew, the Lakers celebrated on the field, while Plattsburgh’s players walked off in dismay.

“The whole game was weird. There was just a weird, different energy that I couldn’t really describe,” Seidman said. “We should have done better, we should have had that game.”

Fitzgerald spoke of how “in the blink of an eye” the season was over and the upsetting feeling that followed the game. 

This was the final appearance for the team’s three graduate students, Spear, Seidman and Villemaire, and four seniors, Nicole Kingley, Julia Ennis, Anna McDuffie and Kieren Ritter. 

Oswego, who is coached by Plattsburgh Athletic Hall of Famer Brian McGrane, went on to lose in double OT to the Cortland Red Dragons in the SUNYAC semi-finals. 

Plattsburgh’s head coach, Whitney Frary, led the team a resilient regular season and to the playoffs in her first season at the helm. With the team’s two leading scorers, Seidman and Villemaire, graduating, Frary will be tested this offseason and into next season. Seidman said that with her and Villemaire leaving, it will give other players the chance to step up. 

“I said this after the game, ‘this is a very talented group we have, but people just need to step up and honestly realize that they’re here for a reason,”’ Seidman said. “‘If they don’t want to put in the work and do what they need to do, then honestly don’t be here. It’s a privilege to be on this team.”’

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