In the midst of drizzling rain and biting wind, the SUNY New Paltz men’s soccer team qualified for the 2016 State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament — their first postseason appearance since 2012.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Hawks shutout the Buffalo State Bengals 1-0 in the second annual Heinz Ahlmeyer Game on South Turf Field. The team donned blue camouflage-themed jerseys for the game, in honor of the armed services.
The Hawks have now won both of their appearances in the Heinz Ahlmeyer Game, winning by a score of 4-3 over SUNY Potsdam in the initial contest last year.
Cold, slick playing conditions made for a tight and physical game, with the Hawks ultimately outshooting the Bengals 9-6. Hawks third-year goalkeeper John Guzzo remained steady in the net, recording two saves and earning his fifth shutout of the season, while fourth-year midfielder Charlie Versen scored the game-winning goal in the 43rd minute. The goal came after the Bengals defense passed the ball back to their second-year goalkeeper, Andreas Queen, who missed the kick, allowing Versen to move around him and put the Hawks ahead for good just before halftime.
The game’s namesake, Heinz Ahlmeyer, class of ‘66, was a Marine who was killed in action in Vietnam on May 10, 1967 less than one year after graduating. Prior to joining the armed services, Ahlmeyer was a member of the 1965 men’s soccer team that won the NCAA Atlantic Coast Regional Championship. Every year since his death, the Department of Athletics, Wellness & Recreation has given out the Heinz Ahlmeyer Award to a student athlete who best exemplifies “dedication, perseverance and service beyond self.”
Jason Gilliland, coordinator for the SUNY New Paltz Office of Veteran and Military Services, said that while the pregame ceremonies had to be cancelled, the event was still very much a success. Despite the weather, their fundraiser netted more than $1,000 for educational programs for the 330 veterans, active duty personnel and dependents on campus, according to Gilliland.
“It was a stellar game,” Gilliland said. “The [Hawks] really played hard and seemed motivated to win. But it was also great to see so many people, mostly parents, tailgating and offering recognition for the veteran community on this campus. The connection to Heinz [Ahlmeyer] really brings everyone together.”
Gilliland said that the goal for next year will be to plan earlier for more pregame events and to incorporate more alumni, as the game has raised the profile of veterans issues in New Paltz.
It was announced on Wednesday, Oct. 26 that the Hawks were ranked fifth in the East Region, announced by the NCAA. This season, the Hawks tallied a 2-1-1 record against opponents in the East Region.
As for the Hawks, they finished their regular season with a record of 8-3-7, including a 4-3-2 record against SUNYAC opponents. The Hawks, who are the fifth seed will have their first round game against a familiar opponent as they visit fourth seed Buffalo State on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. If they win, they will advance to the SUNYAC semifinals and travel to play SUNY Cortland on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.
• The Hawks will face Buffalo State in the SUNYAC Quarterfinals on the road on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m.
• The Hawks have a 1-0 record against Buffalo State this Season
• If the Hawks win, they will play SUNY Cortland on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.