The current SUNYAC champions will officially look to retain their crown.
After a heartbreaking 0-2 record this past weekend, the SUNY New Paltz Women’s Soccer team secured the No. 6 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament.
After their Oct. 24 7-0 victory over The College At Old Westbury, the Lady Hawks finished the fall 2012 regular season with an overall record of 12-5-1 and a conference record of 4-4-1.
Despite being up 2-1 at halftime, the Hawks lost to the Blue Devils 3-2 on Oct. 20, sealing their fate as the No. 6 seed and giving the Blue Devils the No. 3 spot. The Lady Hawks will travel to Fredonia, N.Y. for a second consecutive weekend to begin tournament play.
After winning the conference title last season, Head Coach Colleen Bruley said the team was a target among the other SUNYAC competitors. With the No. 6 seed, she said it takes the pressure off of the Hawks and puts them in a desirable position.
“We feel that the pressure’s on them [Fredonia], which is nice because the pressure has been on us all year,” Bruley said. “We’re the underdog, and we kind of like that role. ”
The Hawks return to the tournament with most of their championship team roster still intact, including players like forward Samantha Abravanel and midfielder Beth Bowling.
Despite several new faces on the 2012 roster, fourth-year goalkeeper Stephanie Vega said she and other veteran players have been reminding first-year players how much a postseason triumph means to a team.
“When I was a freshman, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to play for a title,” Vega said. “Last year was when I finally realized through the process of making it through the postseason and having this title – that it’s a big deal. I think just elaborating to the new players that you only get one shot at the playoffs and they see how passionate we are as the upperclassmen.”
Going into the weekend, Bruley said the team has made “system changes” at practices which she wants to use come tournament time.
“I’ve been watching video for two days straight now and I think the girls are motivated to do whatever it takes to succeed after this past weekend,” Bruley said.
She also said that while the team may be the last seed among the postseason teams, the title is “anyone’s game.”
“The girls knew they let it slip away from them this past weekend,” Bruley said. “We could have beaten Fredonia on Saturday, but we let it get away from us.”
Vega said that with the rematch against Fredonia, the Lady Hawks are looking to strike back against a Blue Devils squad that specializes in attacking with experience and confidence.
“Fredonia is a very talented team. All of the teams in the SUNYAC are very talented teams,” she said. “We had a tough loss this past weekend and we’re going to go back there and show them we aren’t different than last year. What we couldn’t get done last weekend will get done this weekend. I’m going there and winning, I’m not coming back with a loss.”