Upstate Update - Conference Playoffs
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.
Games of the Week
Skidmore at Hobart
Liberty League Semifinal
Tuesday, November 3
The Liberty League has just completed one of its most exciting and unpredictable seasons. Hobart was back in the league playoffs for the second year in a row, while Skidmore was making its first appearance since advancing to the title game in 2013.
The Season Thus Far
Hobart (13-2-2/5-1-2) has proven themselves perhaps the league's most consistent team all season. The Statesmen had only one loss all year, a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Skidmore. Hobart entered the game with a season best seven game win streak while being undefeated at home all season.
On the other hand Skidmore (10-5-1/5-3-0) has been by far the most enigmatic team in the league. After starting the conference schedule with four straight wins, Skidmore then suffered losses to RPI, St. Lawrence and a spirited Bard squad. A hard fought 1-0 win over Union saved Skidmore from a historic collapse. Skidmore is known, however, for always winning games they have to win.
The Statesmen controlled play in the first half, dominating possession and outshooting Skidmore 6-3. The second half was a different story all together, as Skidmore began the half on fire. The pressure was rewarded when freshman Ben Poole scored the biggest goal of his soccer career in the fifty-first minute. The goal would prove pivotal as Skidmore would hold on for the 1-0 win, beating Hobart for the second time this season and ending the Statesmen's perfect season long home stand. The game was very even with both teams getting off 11 shots while Skidmore held a slight 3-2 edge in corners.
Hobart (13-3-3) is a very very good team. The Statesmen should have an outside shot at an at-large bid with a good overall record while playing good soccer from August to November. Skidmore (11-5-1) will move on to the Liberty League final for the second time in three years. Yet another Liberty League team with young stars, Skidmore will be looking to dance this year, and only one obstacle still stands in their way.
Union at St. Lawrence
Liberty League Semifinal
Wednesday, November 4
The Season Thus Far
Union (10-3-4/3-2-3) entered the league playoffs after narrowly edging out Vassar, RPI and RIT for the final playoff spot. This was Union’s first playoff foray since 2012, back then Sebastian Jansen was creating havoc as one of the most dangerous strikers to grace the league. This season’s version of Union might not be as prolific, but just as hard working and determined to make their mark. A tough loss to St. Lawrence earlier in the year saw confidence dip, but the Dutchmen had the chance for revenge against the league’s top seed.
St. Lawrence (12-3-2/6-2-0) has been flying of late after a mid-season slump. Injured Saints have returned to the line-up and freshmen are no longer freshmen at this time of the season.
Union started the game blitzing St. Lawrence. The high pressure paid off early as Carl Farber scored his eleventh goal in the sixth minute of the game. Union played even more aggressively with the lead and almost doubled their lead on a couple of occasions. The Saints responded well as senior striker Ryan Grant pulled the Saints even in the twenty-eighth minute after a cheeky give and go sent him in one on one on the Union goal. St. Lawrence would take the lead for good in the forty-second minute when freshman Saint Charlton Kelly scored off a corner kick for what would prove the game winner.
Union ends their season the way they played their season with fight and grit. The team played fearless and determined soccer, dominating St. Lawrence at home for stretches of the game, sending a signal that they are a program to be taken very seriously come 2016. St. Lawrence moves on to face archrival Skidmore in a repeat of the 2013 finals.
Around the Region
SUNYAC Semifinal: Oneonta State 3, Plattsburgh State 0 - In the SUNYAC semi-final Oneonta (14-3-1) take care of one of their main SUNYAC rivals in comfortable fashion, avenging an early season loss. The Red Dragons were in NCAA form as they outshot the Cardinals 14-1 as they march their way into the conference final. Plattsburgh (14-4-3) will be confident of an at-large bid to the NCAA after a very good season and some big wins. Oneonta moves on with more than the league crown on their minds.
SUNYAC Semifinal: Brockport State 2, Cortland State 1 - A reality of soccer playoffs is that when two good teams play, one must lose. Brockport (12-3-2) destroys the chance of a Red Dragon derby and enter the conference final with an overtime goal while a good team, Cortland (12-5-2), must now wait for a possible at-large selection to the big dance.
Team of the Week
When Skidmore has to win, Skidmore wins.
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