Upstate Update - Week 10
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
Oneonta at Cortland
Saturday, November 5
Heavyweights of New York state clashed in a battle that would decide the champion of the SUNYAC conference.
The Season Thus Far
Both teams arrived at the final as teams that were highly regarded and widely expected to compete for the title since early September. Cortland (17-2-0 / 8-1-0) has been on an upward trajectory since pre-season and only had one minor bump in the road, a 3-0 setback to Oneonta (14-6-1 / 6-2-1) in midseason. Since then, the Red Dragons have reeled off eleven straight wins and entered the final in cruise mode. Oneonta meanwhile got off to a bit of a rocky start, recovered well and seemed to stumble into the conference finals after suffering some unexpected late season losses.
Both teams entered the game with the knowledge that win or lose, there would be a greater prize to play for in the weeks to come.
Cortland started the game with very good energy and pressured Oneonta from the first whistle. The pressure was intense as Cortland was determined to avoid their rivals celebrating a third straight SUNYAC crown. Despite having the better of play, Cortland was unable to get the breakthrough and teams entered halftime with a goalless tie. After the break Cortland continued to press and finally got the go ahead goal off the boot of freshman Cam LaVallee in the 75th minute of play. LaVallee’s goal would prove to be enough and Cortland was crowned champions of the SUNYAC for the first time since 2008 and the 18th time overall. It was a dominant performance by Cortland, outshooting Oneonta 14-10 and 7-2 in shots on frame. The Red Dragons also held the edge in corner kicks by 5-1 margin.
Cortland wins a program record 17th game and the SUNYAC has two representatives who will have big dreams entering the National tournament.
Around the Region
Vassar 3, Skidmore 2 - The most consistent team in the Liberty League in Vassar (14-3-2 / 5-2-1) met the most resilient in Skidmore (7-7-4 / 4-2-2). Vassar arrived at the conference final after a very impressive season highlighted by a dominating 3-0 win over Rochester (9-4-3 / 2-3-2) in mid-season. After a second place league finish Vassar dispatched RPI (8-7-4 / 5-2-1) 3-1 in the semifinals behind a first half hat trick from league Rookie of the Year Mattie Mrlik. Skidmore entered the final for the second year in a row behind the heroics of Defensive Player of the year Adebare Oyeniyi. This game was a heart-breaking loss for Skidmore who lost the title after conceding two penalty kicks in the final 10 minutes of the game. Vassar meanwhile moves on the dance for the first time since 2012 where they hope to make a deep run with a talented blend of experienced and young players.
St. John Fisher 3, Houghton 2 - St. John Fisher (6-9-3 / 3-3-1) has announced their arrival on the big stage in a big way. The Empire 8 champions are off to battle Oneonta (14-6-1 / 6-2-1) in the NCAA after winning the programs first ever conference title and earning its first ever invite to the big dance. This journey was not an easy one as they had to outlast powerhouse Stevens (11-5-2 / 6-1-0) in penalties before beating a very good Houghton (11-4-4 / 4-1-2) team. St. John Fisher is not satisfied and like the other brand new Kings of New York they intend to go as far as their talent and will takes them in the National tournament.
Teams of the Week
St. John Fisher, Cortland, Vassar.
All hail the new Kings of New York.
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