The men’s soccer team dropped a 2-0 decision against Buffalo State on Saturday, Oct. 29 in their first playoff game since 2012.
The Hawks went up against State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) foe Buffalo State for the second weekend in a row—this time it was win or go home.
With several scoring chances in the first half, the Hawks outshot the Bengals 5-1 during the opening period, but could not capitalize as the contest was scoreless through the first half.
In the second half, Hawks third-year goalkeeper John Guzzo was involved in a controversial play that gave the Bengals a penalty kick, which was ultimately the difference despite the Hawk’s offensive chances.
“I expected a little bit of pressure from Buffalo State and it was important for our guys to get through the intense first moments of the game,” Hawks head coach Kyle Clancy said. “The first half was really positive for us, but seeing them go up 1-0 and our team almost tying it up was tough for us. Overall, I really appreciated the way we fought back.”
With the win, Buffalo State advanced to the semifinal round against SUNY Cortland, in which the Red Dragons won by a 1-0 margin.
Offensively, the Hawks outshot the Bengals 11-6 as Hawks fourth-year midfielder Charlie Versen led the way with three shots on goal in his final game as a Hawk. Third-year midfielders Aleco Podias and Ben Zilka fired off two shots apiece as the Hawks held a 4-0 edge in corners as well.
Eight Hawks players will be graduating after this year, and it was their first time getting playoff experience in the SUNYAC conference, but also their last.
Next season, the Hawks will also have eight fourth-year players on the team, giving them one last chance to give the Hawks a trophy.
“It was really nice because the seniors haven’t been to the playoffs at all, so for them to have the experience was great,” Clancy said. “I also think it’s huge for the younger guys to see it too because hopefully it will drive them in the offseason to not experience that feeling again in the playoffs.”
The Hawks finish their season with a 8-4-7 record, and did not give up more than two goals in a game for the entire year, leaving them with 23 goals scored and 13 total goals allowed.
They also defeated No. 7 ranked SUNY Oneonta on Saturday, Oct. 15 to get right back into the playoff picture. A week later, the Hawks clinched their first playoff berth in four years in the Heinz Ahlmeyer Game against Buffalo State.
“The last win versus Buffalo State, knowing that it clinched a playoff spot for us was great,” Clancy said. “Knowing that we controlled our own destiny and seeing the look on the player’s faces was a really cool experience.”
After making the playoffs under a new head coach, the Hawks coaching staff will be actively recruiting players throughout the year and players will continue their training in the spring in order to work on their offensive skills for next season, Clancy said.
“This spring we’ll work more on the final third and a few technical pieces,” Clancy said. “We’ll also work on getting the players more confident and individually creative so they can take more guys on because we need our players that can win those one-on-one situations.”