After dropping their last two SUNYAC games last weekend to SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh, the Men’s Soccer team looks to hold onto playoff hopes despite lingering injuries that have had a major impact on the team’s performance this season.
“This is one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve ever gone through,” Head Coach Gene Ventriglia said.
Although the Hawks had a 1-0 lead at halftime, courtesy of first-year midfielder Sam Spring, the visiting Potsdam Bears were able to capitalize during the second half by producing three unanswered goals Friday to defeat the Hawks 3-1.The next day the Hawks were unable to recover from two Plattsburgh goals early in the first half of the match against the Cardinals, dropping the contest 2-0.
“We haven’t been healthy,” Ventriglia said.
Third-year captain Alec Johnson, third-year captain Brian Spina and fourth-year forward Bernardo Menendez suffered lasting injuries that are affecting the team’s efforts for a SUNYAC playoff spot, Ventriglia said.
Johnson and Menendez have been limited to spending only a short time on the field each match. Spina, who has been unable to compete for the last three weeks due to a hamstring injury, may not see the pitch the remainder of the season, Ventriglia said, adding that a series of injuries this severe speaks to the physicality of the SUNYAC conference teams the Hawks face.
“We haven’t had a consistent line up,” Ventriglia said. “It takes its toll.”
Spina said while getting every player back to full strength would be the ideal situation, the consequences of their absences has been lessened by the depth of talent the team possess.
“We have players on the bench who can step right in and contribute as well as the missing players,” he said. “I think that all the freshmen have stepped up and contributed greatly this year. We have had freshman in our starting line up since day one of the season and the others that come off the bench make an impact for us.”
Ventriglia said the injuries have allowed the first-years to further develop by giving them more opportunities for playing time. They are all talented, and these chances to perform on the field provide them with the experience aspect of the game they lack as first-year players, Ventriglia said.
Looking ahead, Ventriglia remains optimistic of the team’s ability to once again reach the playoffs. The Hawks must win two of their next three SUNYAC games, as they compete against Oneonta, Fredonia and Buffalo State for a spot in the playoffs.
While Spina said the conference is unfolding in some unpredictable ways which may or may not work to the team’s advantage, the Hawks’ focus on the next three games is what keeps the team’s morale high.
“Our team knows the potential we have, we just have not played up to it in every game. We could have won more than half the games we lost, but in the end we just need to concentrate on the future and not worry about our past, which I think we can do,” Spina said. “I think it will come down to how everyone does —-— not just our team — in the final weekend of conference play.”
Ventriglia said the team never really knows what to expect from the conference, noting that the previous two seasons, the Hawks’ playoff spot hinged on the last two SUNYAC games of the regular season, with the Hawks making it to the playoffs each time.
“Maybe it will happen again,” Ventriglia said. “Maybe it’s just fate.”
The Hawks defeated Hunter College Tuesday 1-0 in non-conference play. The team travels to Oneonta to face the Red Dragons on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.