Upstate Update - NCAA Edition
By Mani Tafari
The Upstate Update brings you up to speed on Division III men's soccer in the "Upstate" New York region, home to the SUNYAC, Liberty League, and Empire 8. Several key matches will be recapped each week along with a more in-depth look at a Game of the Week.
Game of the Week
St. Lawrence at Haverford
Saturday, November 21
Sixteen years ago, the Saints of St. Lawrence travelled south to play Messiah in Pennsylvania, with the knowledge that a successful weekend would mean a final four appearance and a chance to make history. The more things change the more they remain the same. The 2015 Saints would have to beat a dangerous Haverford team in order to continue its journey for a National Championship.
The Season Thus Far
Haverford (17-3-0) entered the game riding a 15-game winning streak having already established itself as the best team in school history. These boys were not content however, and confidence was sky high as they entered the weekend as hosts to MIT, Oneonta State and a hungry St. Lawrence.
This game had early fireworks as Haverford’s leading man, Sam Yarosh, had the hosts ahead after scoring an unassisted goal. The Fords would strike again in the 25th minute to make the score 2-0. As a team, St. Lawrence had not given up more than one goal all season, but would close the half facing a two goal deficit against a strong Haverford team. A determined Saint team would apply pressure in the second half, but, try as they might, there was no getting by the Fords on this day. Shots were even at 11 a piece in a back and forth game with St. Lawrence winning the battle of corners 7-1
St. Lawrence (16-4-2) ends its season after a successful year under first-year coach Mike Toshack. In his first season the Saints won the league and tournament double for the third year in a row, but ultimately fell one weekend short of the final goal. Haverford, meanwhile, proved that any doubters left were simply wrong. This is a good team, and will be one for quite a while. One more win and they would be Kansas City bound.
Around the Region
Oneonta State 2, MIT 0 - As has been stated in this column before this season. Oneonta is extremely dangerous. The SUNYAC regular season and tournament champions arrived in Pennsylvania with hopes of not only making it to Kansas City, but also to be the last team standing once there. A team that has made two of the last four Final Fours expects to take the next step. MIT also came into the weekend with big dreams after having one of the best seasons in school history and possessing perhaps the most dangerous player of all four teams. Oneonta would prove too much for the men from MIT and prevail by a 2-0 score line. Oneonta would move on to face Haverford for the right to play in the Final Four while MIT plan for next year after having an amazing season.
Oneonta State 1, Haverford 0 - Haverford knew coming into the weekend it would likely have to beat the two most storied programs in upstate New York in order to advance to its first ever Final Four appearance. So far so good after Saturday’s victory over St. Lawrence. Oneonta however would prove a different animal. In an often physical game, the action was very back and forth with both teams being forced to defend for long periods. After 90 minutes of evenly played soccer the game entered overtime and seemed as if it would be decided in penalties when Oneonta’s Dylan Williams scored the biggest goal of his career to send his team to Kansas City and the NCAA Final Four.
For Haverford, this was a heartbreaking way to end a historic season, but these losses have a way of making a program better and hungrier in future NCAA appearances. Haverford have painstakingly built a powerhouse in Pennsylvania and the nation took notice in 2015. Now the hard part is to do it every year and go even deeper in the Tournament. Oneonta moves on to the Final Four and, apologies to Messiah and Loras, can make the claim of being the most dominant team of the decade. Their claims will be even stronger if the team can muster two more wins two weekends from now.
Team of the Week
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