For the first time in program history, the No. 2 seed New Paltz Women’s Soccer team will play in the SUNYAC Tournament final.
After a 1-0 defeat Wednesday afternoon over SUNYAC rival and No. 3 seed SUNY Fredonia, the Lady Hawks earned their place in the final against No. 1 seed SUNY Cortland.
Due to the unexpected snowstorm over the Halloween weekend, Alumni Field was rendered unavailable for play and the team moved the location of the semifinal game to Dietz Field in Kingston, N.Y.
The Blue Devils had defeated No. 4 seed SUNY Brockport Saturday, Oct. 29 by a score of 2-1 giving the Hawks extra time to prepare for the semifinal game.
Prior to the match, Head Coach Colleen Bruley had said she’d rather go up against SUNY Fredonia.
“I think we match up well against them,” said Bruley in an interview before the competition. “I think we may match up better against them instead of Brockport actually. If I had to choose I would choose Fredonia either way.”
The game opened with a scoreless first half, with the Hawks being outshot 4-3. The New Paltz defense, however, was able to keep Fredonia’s offensive ace fourth-year forward Reilly Condidorio from breaking out and taking any shots on goal. According to third-year goalkeeper Stephanie Vega, the Hawks prepared themselves for the challenge Condidorio presented.
“She was definitely a factor,” Vega said. “We’ve played against her before and shut her down before and we knew that we needed to do it again to get the win.”
The second half opened much like the first, with the Hawks seizing momentum and controlling most of the gameplay. After numerous chances, third-year forward Samantha Abravanel was able to get the ball past Fredonia’s goalkeeper Meaghan Meszaros.
Abravanel’s goal came midway through the half and the New Paltz defense was able to hold off the Blue Devils until the end of the game.
The win marks the first tournament win in seven playoff tries for the Hawks and the team bested their single-season win total with a compiled record of 12-5-2.
Vega, who faced no shots on goal during the game, extended her program record for shut-outs with 11.
“I am so happy right now,” Vega said. “I think the team really came out to play today and we were able to get the 1-0 win.”
While playing in a different location than they’re used to, New Paltz fans still came out to support the team and were as ecstatic about the win as the players.
“It was exciting,” said New Paltz fan Jane Oliver. “I thought the game was very well-played and the girls did a very good job.”
While praise was given to the New Paltz team, the performance of Meszaros did not go unnoticed.
“That game should have been 4-0,” said fan Lenny Balestrieri. “They had so many chances in the second half to score, but their keeper made three great saves in that half.”
With the semifinal victory, the Hawks will travel to SUNY Cortland to play in the conference final match on Nov. 5. Though playing a higher seed than them, the Hawks are confident they can come out on top.
“It’s the first time in history so it’s really exciting for us,” said Vega. “I feel like we’re more prepared than ever at this point. Coming into this game and winning 1-0 gives us the confidence to go out there and gives us just enough to want it.”