October 31, 2018

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

Oneonta at Cortland

Wednesday, October 31

Oneonta and Cortland have been giants in the upstate region and nationally for the past few seasons.

Both share the moniker of the Red Dragons and an attacking and entertaining brand of soccer that has led to impressive regular seasons and deep NCAA runs over the past decade.

This season, Cortland has been the dominant team in the SUNYAC and earned the top seed in the conference and the right to host their fellow Red Dragons in the league semi-final.

Oneonta were last season’s SUNYAC champions and knew that their biggest threats to repeat would be the boys from Cortland.

The Season Thus Far

Oneonta entered the game with a 10-4-4 record, solidly on the bubble for a NCAA invitation which seems to have become an automatic selection over the past few seasons. One more win against a quality opponent would likely punch their ticket to the big dance.

Cortland are having an amazing season and entered the game as one of the very few one loss teams in the country. The hosts know they will be dancing come November but would rather dance as SUNYAC kings.

Game On

Right from the opening whistle, the contest had the feel of an NCAA game. An enthusiastic Cortland crowd provided the atmosphere for a late fall playoff game as the two most dominant teams in the SUNYAC did battle.

Cortland fans would have to wait until the 81st minute for excitement and it came in the form of an Oneonta goal. Roberto Ventura scored the opening goal and Oneonta were nine minutes away from a place in the SUNYAC conference finals.

Relentless Cortland pressure would pay off with just over two minutes remaining when Jake Keller equalized for the hosts.

The deadlock was not broken in overtime and penalties were required to settle this highly entertaining game. After 110 minutes of physical battle, the game would belong to the team that possessed the mental edge required to win the penalty shootout and advance to the conference final. That team was the Cortland Red Dragons.

Take Away

Oneonta (10-4-5 / 5-2-2) is a quality team who will hope the committee will consider their strong strength of schedule and impressive season when making the decision for at-large tournament spots.

Cortland (15-1-3 / 8-1-0) is aiming to win much more than the SUNYAC championship.

Around the Region

Brockport 2, New Paltz 0 - Brockport (14-4-2 / 5-2-2) travels to New Paltz (11-6-1 / 6-2-1) and defeats a very good team to earn a spot in the SUNYAC finals. New Paltz had some impressive wins last season and signaled that they would challenge for the league crown in the near future. That near future was this season as they defeated both league heavyweights Cortland and Oneonta during an impressive season. Brockport in the meanwhile were quietly working and piling up wins while focus was trained on the league’s more popular teams. In winning this game, Brockport puts itself firmly in the conversation of a tournament invite and proves that they are a quality team that can beat any team in the region.

Hobart 4, Vassar 2 - This was a repeat of the 2017 conference final. This first round game of the Liberty League playoff pitted two very good teams who needed to win the league tournament in order to dance in November. Hobart (8-7-2 / 5-3-1) had a mixed non-league season but were once again dominant when facing Liberty League competition. This trend would continue as they scored four goals against a Vassar (9-7-0 / 5-4-0) squad who had a stellar year but just had defensive lapses at the wrong time of the season.

Ithaca 1, Skidmore 0 - The Bombers (13-2-3 / 5-2-2) are in the Liberty League semi-finals for the first time in school history. A very strong performance from Ithaca sees them knock out Skidmore (9-6-3 / 4-4-1) who loses in the first round for the second year in a row and still in search of its first conference crown. Skidmore can be proud of a solid season where they had big overtime comeback wins on the road and continued to survive after many had written them off. This is a team with a big future. For Ithaca, the future is now. The Bombers will hope that this win will have them firmly on the dance bubble and on the committee’s radar.

Team of the Week

Cortland.

Look who’s dancing.

 


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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.

 

Columnist

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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Previous
Nov 8: Upstate Update - Week 10
Oct 31: Upstate Update - Week 9
Oct 24: Upstate Update - Week 8
Oct 17: Upstate Update - Week 7
Oct 10: Upstate Update - Week 6
Oct 3: Upstate Update - Week 5
Sep 26: Upstate Update - Week 4
Sep 19: Upstate Update - Week 3
Sep 12: Upstate Update - Week 2
Sep 5: Upstate Update - Week 1
Nov 8: Upstate Update - Week 10
Nov 1: Upstate Update - Week 9
Oct 25: Upstate Update - Week 8
Oct 18: Upstate Update - Week 7
Oct 10: Upstate Update - Week 6
Oct 3: Upstate Update - Week 5
Sep 26: Upstate Update - Week 4
Sep 19: Upstate Update - Week 3
Sep 12: Upstate Update - Week 2
Nov 8: Upstate Update - Week 10
Nov 1: Upstate Update - Week 9
Oct 25: Upstate Update - Week 8
Oct 18: Upstate Update - Week 7
Oct 12: Upstate Update - Week 6
Oct 4: Upstate Update - Week 5
Sep 19: Upstate Update - Week 3
Sep 12: Upstate Update - Week 2
Sep 7: Upstate Update - Week 1
Nov 25: Upstate Update - NCAA Edition
Nov 5: Upstate Update - Conference Playoffs
Oct 28: Upstate Update - Week 8
Oct 20: Upstate Update - Week 7
Oct 13: Upstate Update - Week 6
Oct 6: Upstate Update - Week 5
Sep 29: Upstate Update - Week 4
Sep 22: Upstate Update - Week 3
Sep 15: Upstate Update - Week 2
Sep 8: Upstate Update - Week 1
Nov 6: Upstate Update - Conference Playoff Edition
Oct 28: Upstate Update - Week 9
Oct 22: Upstate Update - Week 8
Oct 14: Upstate Update - Week 7
Oct 7: Upstate Update - Week 6
Sep 30: Upstate Update - Week 5
Sep 22: Upstate Update - Week 4
Sep 15: Upstate Update - Week 3
Sep 9: Upstate Update - Week 2