Showdown in Geneva
St. Lawrence sophomore Andrew Bednarsky scored the game winner for the Saints Photo by Tara Freeman
Front page photo by Kevin Bolton
Give Me Liberty
by Manl Tafari
Small College Soccer in upstate New York has been significant since Brockport State won the first NCAA championship in 1974. And today, that same fighting spirit continues in the Liberty League, the Empire 8, the SUNYAC, and for the other programs in the state.
The Liberty League regular season crown and New York State supremacy was up for grabs on Saturday, October 8 when the Saints of St. Lawrence marched into Geneva, NY to take on the Statesmen of Hobart.
Entering Saturday’s match, the Liberty League playoff picture was still very much in the air. Hamilton’s exodus to the NESCAC combined with a sub-par 0-2-2 start by last season’s finalist RPI means that several squads have a chance of taking home the crown...or Lady Liberty to be more precise.
The season thus far
As of Saturday morning, Hobart stood at 10-1-0 with a top 20 ranking in both national polls. Their one loss came on the road against a hard working Clarkson side, scoring to win with just 13 ticks remaining on the clock. With solid wins against regional rivals Rochester and Wheaton (Mass.), Hobart was looking to erase the memories of a disappointing 2010 season, and return to their winning ways
As for St. Lawrence, despite a 10-0 start, questions persisted about whether or not such a young and injury plagued team could make noise in November. An early season scare against SUNYAC foe Geneseo only added to that concern. The Saint's schedule wasn't as much of a guide either, as some wondered if their top 10 status was for real, while others were frustrated by the lack of a national No. 1 ranking in the D3soccer.com Top 25.
On an unusually warm October afternoon, the match began with Hobart applying intense pressure on St. Lawrence. Feeling the support of the home crowd, the Statesmen did a good job of denying Saint midfielders the time and space in which to operate. However, the deadlock didn't last too long due to the efforts of junior midfielder Sam DeMello. In the 16th minute, DeMello fed an open Andy Bednarsky, who calmly tucked his first goal of the season inside the back post.
Play was even for the remainder of the half, with St. Lawrence taking a 1-0 lead to the break.
A determined Hobart team would dominate for the first 15 minutes of the second half, culminating in a dangerous 1v1 opportunity. Saint senior keeper Brian Aberbathy met the chhalenge and kept the shut-out intact. A corner kick in the 75th minute by J.J. Tipton led to a goal by Alex Laird off a nice header, increasing the lead to 2-0. Senior striker Brian Gilloran scored his 6th goal of the season with seven minutes to play to complete the scoring at 3-0. The Saints finished the game with a 14-11 advantage on shots and an 8-5 margin on corner kicks.
Abernethy made four saves in the Saint's win, while Charlie Hale had four saves for the Statesmen.
At 10-2-0 overall and 2-2-0 in conference play, Hobart is currently outside the Liberty League playoff picture , but by no means out of the race. The 2009 tournament champions are not lacking confidence, and are keenly aware they have a bull’s-eye on their back. The October 15 match against an improved Vassar side, 7-3-2 and 2-1-1, looking for its first post season berth will be the match of the week in the conference, and perhaps the East region.
Meanwhile St. Lawrence will attempt to maintain its mid-season form while waiting for senior striker and emotional leader Sean David Scott’s return from injury. The Saints look forward to two conference matches on October 14th and 16th as they face Union and RPI. Both matches are in Canton.