September 5, 2018

Upstate Update - Week 1

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

SUNY Cortland at Messiah

Saturday, September 1

An early season clash between two powerhouse programs kicks off this season’s game of the week.

When big teams play early in the season it is more than just an early season encounter meant to work out the kinks. It is the chance to earn a victory that might carry significant weight down the road. A victory against a team that will not lose many games. It is also a chance to send a message to a team that you might just see later in the year.

A secret to Messiah’s success is the unwillingness of those in and around the program to rest on accomplishments of seasons past. The Falcons come to win year after year and 2018 is no different.

The Red Dragons have been flying to new heights over the past few seasons. The reigning SUNYAC champions have danced three of the past four seasons and were ready for an early season away battle. The Kings of the North were in Kings Landing (Shoemaker Field) but they did not come to bend the knee.

The Season Thus Far

An opening day contest to start their respective 2018 campaigns.

Game On

Cortland freshman Anthony Ruggiero got his career and the Red Dragon season off to a dream start when he opened his account against the defending champions within the first four minutes of the game. Cortland continued to play impressive soccer and pressed forward. They were rewarded again for their positivity at the 24-minute mark with a goal from senior Leke Dossou.

The Falcons responded ten minutes later to cut the deficit to 2-1 and the game headed to half time with Cortland holding a one goal lead. The fireworks continued nine minutes after half-time and Messiah got the equalizer in front of their enthusiastic crowd.

This early season top 25 clash ended 2-2 after regulation and the crowd was treated to extra time soccer. The Falcons went for the kill and dominated the final minutes of the game outshooting the Red Dragons 6-1 during extra time.

There would be no winning goal in this season opener and both teams had to be satisfied with a well-deserved tie to start the season. A draw was a reasonable result in a game between two teams who have lofty goals for 2018.

Take Away

Cortland will continue their preparation to do battle in the ever challenging SUNYAC conference through their impressive non-conference schedule with games against Ithaca, St. Lawrence and Hobart in the coming weeks. Messiah meanwhile will concentrate on getting injured Falcons fit and running before the start of conference play.

Around the Region

Bard 2, Canton 1 (OT) - A 2-0 start to the season for Bard who will look to climb the table in the Liberty League after dropping some heartbreaking games last season.

RIT 2, SUNY Brockport 1 (OT) - RIT gets the winner in OT in a battle between two teams on an upward trajectory.

New Paltz 4, Union 1 - Big statement by New Paltz who could be a sleeper in the SUNYAC. Union knows that good preparation for the conference is more important than a win at this point in the season.

Nazareth 2, RPI 0 - Very good win for Nazareth against an RPI team looking to bounce back with games against Geneseo and Oneonta on the horizon.

Ithaca 0, Cortland 0 (2OT) - Early signs indicate that the Bombers will be contenders in the Liberty League. Cortland already have 2 ties in the young season.

Clarkson 5, Alfred 0 - That’s 8 goals for and 0 against for the Golden Knights in 2018 so far. This team could still be undefeated when former coach Taylor comes to town in a couple weeks.

St. Lawrence 1, Heidelberg 0 - Good start for the Saints, A visit to Oneonta for a heavyweight clash this weekend.

Oneonta 2, Stevens 1 (2OT) - Oneonta prevails in a battle of conference champions. With Ithaca gone, who will challenge Stevens for Empire 8 supremacy?


Team of the Week

Clarkson Golden Knights

Golden Knights … undefeated still!


Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail us.

Upstate Update


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.



Mani Tafari

Mani Tafari graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2001 with a History degree after four seasons playing for Bob Durocher that included the Saints untied, undefeated national championship season in 1999. Mani subsequently earned his law degree from Pace University School of Law (2009). He currently works as a criminal defense attorney and coaches soccer. He remains passionate about Division III soccer and is a loyal St. Lawrence alumus. In the summer of 2018 he shared his experiences as a player in his series, "Saint 4 Years, Saint 4 Life". [see full bio]


Mani Tafari in action

1999 National Champion with St. Lawrence.

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