Upstate Update - Week 3
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
Cortland State at St. Lawrence
Saturday, September 17
A lovely Saturday afternoon on the pristine Sandy MacAllaster was the setting for the game of the season so far featuring a top 25 clash between two teams with perfect records. Upstate fans do not often see the top team from the SUNYAC and the Liberty do battle before November. This game promised to be a wild affair with bragging rights for the region at stake. In addition, the winner will have an impressive win on the resume, which can only help convince the committee of their dancing ability, regardless of league tournament success.
The Season Thus Far
A heart-breaking 2-1 OT loss in the SUNYAC conference semi-final had the Red Dragons eager for 2016 season to begin. Cortland State began their march back to the league tournament with five straight wins while allowing one goal. For the Saints, if last season was one of transition for new head coach Mike Toshack, this year it seems the transition is complete. A young St. Lawrence team retains its old affinity to possession, but have also implemented a few tactical changes. Saints were off to an undefeated start to the season as well, but had only managed one shut-out in five games.
Both teams were seeking their first win of the season against a nationally ranked opponent. This game would be nothing if not physical, an extremely important game with the league portion of the schedule only days away.
Cortland started the game on the front foot, pressuring St. Lawrence’s back line while attempting to control the middle of the park. The early pressure paid off in the 13th minute for the Red Dragons when a heads up play led to a free kick 20 yards out from the Saint goal. Chris Hetter struck a low hard shot through the wall and gave the visitors a one goal advantage. The game progressed fairly evenly for the remainder of the half, but 4 minutes from half-time, Saint senior Manny Collins was brought down in the box resulting in a penalty for the home team. Senior Noah Bunton stepped up and calmly scored his third goal of the season to even the score at half-time at one goal each. After the half, both teams fought hard for the advantage in what became a choppy contest at times. The game seemed destined for overtime when Saint sophomore, last season’s Liberty League rookie of the year, Jethro Dede rocketed a shot from 25 yards out that would prove the game winner for the Saints.
This was an exciting game from start to finish and both teams had chances throughout. In the end, the Saints can be considered a bit fortunate to edge past a very dangerous Cortland side.
Cortland must refocus very quickly as the reigning kings of the SUNYAC, Oneonta, is next on the schedule. The Saints meanwhile will do battle against the undefeated Plattsburgh Cardinals to complete their SUNYAC part of the schedule.
These teams may well meet again, possibly with a final four spot on the line.
Around the Region
Union 4, SUNY Canton 0 - Union (5-1-0) off to their normal strong start to the season. The Dutchmen will hope that this season they can avoid fading in late September when the “real” season begins.
Bard 3, York (NY) 0 - Bard (4-0-2) still undefeated after six games, this could be the year Bard makes their move.
Oneonta St. 4, Vassar 2 - This is the Oneonta (5-2-0) we have become used to seeing, Tough loss for the Brewers (5-1-1) team knocking them from the ranks of the unbeaten after surrendering a 1-0 half time lead.
Cortland St. 1, Clarkson 0 - Cortland (5-1-0) is proving to be one of the better teams in the region. Clarkson (3-2-1) has a great opportunity to make it to the league tournament this season, but performances must become more consistent.
Team of the Week
Oneonta (5-2-0). Here they come!
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