Upstate Update - Week 9
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
Skidmore at Union
Saturday, October 29
The heated rivalry between Skidmore (7-6-3 / 4-2-2) and Union (10-6-1 / 3-4-1) will be our final regular season GOW of the year. Skidmore entered the game with their playoff hopes on the line, knowing that a win would allow them an opportunity to improve on last season’s tournament final appearance where they fell just short of being crowned Liberty League champions. Union meanwhile were playing for pride. It seems like a recurring nightmare for the Dutchmen to do well in the non-conference part of the schedule only to struggle in the Liberty League. Despite not contending for a playoff spot, Union entered the game determined to end 2016 on a good note.
The Season Thus Far
Union began the season winning seven of its first eight contests while outscoring opponents 27-3. Skidmore began the year with back to back losses and struggled early while figuring out the right formula for success. A very competitive Liberty League season meant that entering the final day of the regular season final teams and seeding had yet to be sorted out.
Skidmore entered the game knowing that a loss and a St. Lawrence win over Clarkson would eliminate them from post season play.
Skidmore began the game in inspired form after paying tribute to their six graduating seniors before the game. Junior Austin Akoye scored his seventh goal of the season to put the hosts in front. The score remained at 1-0 Skidmore as the teams entered the locker room for intermission. Union kept on pressing however, and Andrew Fontaine would equalize in the 60th minute setting up a wild finish to an amazing game. The fireworks would resume in the 84th minute when Kevin Santos looked to have given the Thoroughbreds the win with a goal from an assist by Akoye. The lead was short lived as less than a minute later Union’s Vincent Oliveto once again tied the score at two goals apiece. The game seemed destined for overtime when Kienan Smith, Union’s 6 foot 5 inch defender, rose above the competition to head in the game winner 17 seconds before the final whistle.
Union gets a great win to wrap up the season while Skidmore moves on to compete for a league title.
A hard fought game by both teams. Union finishes the season with a well-deserved home win while Skidmore aims for a championship and an invite to the dance.
Around the Region
RPI 1, Keene State 0 - RPI (8-6-4 / 5-2-1) are the third seed in the Liberty League tournament and now look to win the league championship while riding a 5 game win streak. RPI received a Pool C invite in 2015, but in order to dance this season they will have to add the tournament crown to their regular season success.
Clarkson 1, St. Lawrence 0 - Clarkson (7-7-2 / 3-4-1) defeats St. Lawrence (11-4-0 / 4-4-0) for the first time since the 1993 season to claim its first top 6 finish in the league in a long time. St. Lawrence meanwhile fails to make the Liberty League tournament for the first time since 2009.
Hobart 1, RIT 0 (OT) - Hobart (9-5-3 / 6-1-1), a team that started out 0-3-1, are Liberty League regular season champions, and will face its old nemesis Skidmore for a chance to play for the championship and win the double. RIT (5-9-3 / 1-6-1) looks to regroup in 2017.
Buffalo State 2, New Paltz 0 - The dream ends for New Paltz (8-4-7 / 4-3-2) in the first round of the SUNYAC playoffs. This team is one to watch for the future. Meanwhile Buffalo (11-6-1 / 5-4-0) next looks to shock Cortland (15-2-0 / 8-1-0) and continue its march to the dance.
Stevens 1, Houghton 0 - A top of the table clash in the Empire 8 sees Stevens (11-5-1 / 6-1-0) edge Houghton (10-3-4 / 4-1-2) for the top seed in the conference playoffs and home field advantage throughout.
Alfred 2, Elmira 1 (2OT) - Alfred (8-7-2 / 2-3-2) concludes the regular season on a positive note to get to the right side of .500 for the season.
Ithaca 2, St. John Fisher 1 - Ithaca (7-8-1 / 5-1-1) looks ready for post season play as it continues its trend of dominating conference opposition.
Team of the Week
The Dutchmen ended the year well and played with tremendous heart. They will be a dangerous team in 2017.
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