On Saturday, Oct. 13, SUNY New Paltz’s Men’s Soccer team held an intraconference record of 2-5.
Three weeks later, they were in the SUNYAC Tournament semifinals.
After completing their regular season with an overall record of 11-8-1 and a SUNYAC record of 4-5, the Hawks slid into the conference’s No. 6 seed.
The team began their postseason berth with an upset, defeating the tournament’s No. 3 seed SUNY Brockport with a final score of 1-0. The lone goal came from fourth-year midfielder Mateo Cordini.
Earlier in the season, the Hawks were shot down by the Golden Eagles 5-2. Head Coach Gene Ventriglia said while the team lost to Brockport earlier in the season, a changed and more confident team went into the tournament.
“This is a totally different team than the team at the beginning of the season,” Ventriglia said. “It was almost like we had two seasons.”
Second-year midfielder Brian Spina said that while the team was the No. 6 seed in the tournament and Brockport was the No. 3 seed, the Hawks were the dominant team during the quarterfinal match.
“We played a great game against Brockport,” Spina said. “I don’t think they expected the level of play we brought to them. We controlled the entire game and you could see their frustration.”
After the team’s upset over SUNY Brockport, the team moved onto the semifinal round of the tournament, where they went up against No. 2 seed and eventual tournament winner SUNY Oneonta. Despite losing to the Red Dragons during the regular season, fourth-year forward Harrison Lane said the Hawks were able to stay competitive with them during the tournament.
“I thought that Oneonta was our toughest opponent in the SUNYAC this past year,” Lane said. “I knew that in order to win the game we would have to have our best performance of the year on both a team and individual level. I think we played extremely well against Oneonta in the semis.”
Lane notched the lone goal against Oneonta, which came off of an assist from Cordini. The Hawks got on the board first, but Oneonta came back to win by tallying one goal per half.
“There were a few mistakes that were made that resulted in the two goals they scored on us that could have been prevented,” Lane said. “I am not criticizing our overall performance, but I know we were capable of better.”
Even with the loss to the eventual SUNYAC champions, Ventriglia said the team’s performance is a step in the right direction for a team comprised of younger players.
“We were attacking for most of the game and we probably could have tied the game up,” Ventriglia said. “The other team came back, but we truly believed we could win that game. They’re going to feel very good about that game.”
For Lane, the end of the season is bittersweet. However, the team’s growth during the season shows promise for a Hawks program that is becoming a threat in the SUNYAC.
“We put New Paltz soccer back on the map,” Lane said. “Nobody expected us to even make the playoffs, they said it was going to be a rebuilding year and boy did we prove them wrong. It breaks my heart to know my collegiate career is over, but the game will forever be with me and hopefully always be a part of my life. I wish the best of luck to the team that has become my family, and will surely be watching for many years to come.”