Upstate Update - Week 5
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
RPI at Skidmore
Saturday, September 30
This week’s contest saw two heavyweights from the Liberty League lock horns in a contest that could decide home field advantage for the league tournament. The Liberty League has expanded this year’s conference tournament to six teams. Both coaches should be confident of making the expanded playoff, given that their teams qualified for last year’s four-team edition.
Skidmore were league tournament finalists the past two seasons and have a goal of going one better in 2017 and bringing home the conference title and an NCAA bid. RPI fell to eventual champions Vassar last season in the tournament semifinals and were eager to continue their strong start to the conference slate.
The Season Thus Far
Skidmore entered the game coming off their lone loss of the season, away to a revitalized Williams team from the NESCAC. All in all, the Thoroughbreds have had a strong start while remaining undefeated at home. RPI also started well, and recovered from tough losses to Oneonta State and Williams by knocking off a determined Bard squad to open Liberty League play.
This would be a matchup between two of the conference’s best teams over the past decade.
The visitors came out on the attack and controlled much of the early part of the game, while keeping the dangerous Skidmore strikers under control. Despite an edge in possession, RPI could not make it count until the 29th minute, when sophomore Brandon Pirog headed the Engineers into the lead. Skidmore pushed for an equalizer to no avail, and the teams entered the locker room at the half with RPI holding a one goal lead.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with the home crowd doing its best to encourage the local troops. But the RPI defense stood firm throughout the game and repelled any attack launched by the hosts.
RPI were determined to hold on to their lead, and they did just that for 88 minutes. In the end, however, Skidmore would not be denied. With just 82 seconds left on the clock, Skidmore front man Augustine Okoye cut through the RPI defense to begin a play that eventually led to a goal by Shoyo Yanagihara.
Skidmore went on to dominate overtime, but were unable to come up with a winner. A tie was perhaps a fair result, as Skidmore outshot the visitors 11-9, while RPI held a slight 2-1 advantage in corner kick attempts.
Neither team can be too upset with the result. RPI picked up a good point on the road against a top conference foe while Skidmore showed great fight to earn a draw in a game they were only seconds from losing.
Don’t be surprised to see these two teams do battle again this season with much more at stake.
Around the Region
Vassar 2, Union 0 - Vassar, perfect in the league with three wins from three, has virtually punched its postseason ticket while the weather is still warm.
Cortland State 2, Plattsburgh State 0 - Can anyone stop Cortland? Doesn’t look like it.
Alfred 1, Elmira 0 - Big win on the road for Alfred to remain undefeated and keep pace with Stevens in league play.
St. Lawrence 3, Ithaca 1 - “Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated”- SLU
Team of the Week
Gritty come-from-behind win over Clarkson in a must-win game.
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