The Men’s Soccer team was defeated 2-1 in their season opener, a non-conference matchup at The College at Old Westbury on Saturday, Aug. 30.
The Hawks took the lead in the 13th minute with a goal by third-year forward Jason Gonzalez. Fourth-year Captain Alec Johnson picked up the assist on the goal. That lead held into halftime.
Both Panthers goals in the contest were scored by first-year forward Dominick Guidace. The first in the 59th minute and the the game-winning second goal in the 90th and final minute of the game.
The Hawks had a chance to tie the game at two apiece in the 90th minute of the game. Fourth-year midfielder Stephen Browne put a head on a free-kick by teammate, first-year midfielder Jon Pugach; however the shot was stopped by Panthers’ third-year Captain and goaltender Peter Sicardi and the Panthers took the one-goal victory.
Despite outshooting the Panthers 26-4 with a 14-2 shots-on-goal advantage, the Hawks could only muster one goal off of Sicardi, who compiled 13 saves throughout the contest.
Despite the loss in the final minute, Head Coach Gene Ventriglia said the Hawks were clearly the better team.
“It’s a cruel game, you have to score,” he said. “We scored and were up most of the time. We had great goal opportunities but could not finish. It was devastating, especially because we dominated in the shots on goal column. I have never seen a team since I’ve been here that plays at the speed that our team plays. We were just flying.”
Johnson said the Hawks have learned that you have to give it all you can for 90 minutes and if you take just a few seconds off, you will be punished.
The season-opener is just the first game of a long journey ahead for the Hawks.
After missing the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) postseason for the first time under Ventriglia, the Hawks look to make it back to the playoffs and win a SUNYAC Championship.
With the loss of five graduating fourth-years from last season, the Hawks have added 17 new additions to the roster for the 2014, including NCAA Div. I transfer third-year forward Jason Gonzalez who played two years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Ventriglia said Gonzalez is a “prototypical striker” in his book.
“He has such vision anticipation that he sees what his next move and goal is going to be,” Ventriglia said. “Especially if you’re in the box. It’s tight, there are a lot of people. If he can make that one move, he can score a goal. The second half he could hardly play because he had two huge blood blisters on his feet. I think he’s going to be our number one goal scorer. He has the potential to be the player of the year in the conference. He’s that good.”
This offseason, the team hired former Ulster County Community College Head Coach, George Vizvary to be the new Hawks assistant coach. Vizvary holds the winningest record in community college history, won three national championships and produced 45 professional players and 52 All-Americans during his 42-year tenure in the position. Ventriglia said Vizvary’s years of experience and expertise have already had a great impact on the team.
“He had a great impact on me and taught me a lot when I was younger,” he said. “The guys love him, they really do. I know he’s going to have a great impact.”
Ventriglia said the team has to work on finishing their scoring chances and maintaining possession. Practices have been competitive and motivational for the Hawks.
“We have a roster of 32 very good soccer players, so practices are much more competitive which will help us get better throughout the season,” Johnson said. “I believe we have the right attitude approaching the season with just two very simple goals; to get better every practice and to win a SUNYAC Championship.”
The Hawks compete next in the Vassar Invitational this weekend in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. as they take on two non-conference competitors at Farmingdale State College this Saturday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. and Elms College on Sunday, Sept. 7 at noon.