Men’s Soccer Continues Program-Best Start

Photo by Rachael Purtell.

The Men’s soccer team has had their best start in program history with a record of 5-1.

Previously undefeated with a record of 4-0, the Men’s soccer team suffered a 1-0 loss at home in the final minutes of Saturday afternoon’s contest against Vassar College.

The Brewers outshot the Hawks 5-2 and held a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks. Jordan Palmer, a fourth-year midfielder from Woodland Hills, California, scored the lone goal for Vassar. New Paltz was unable to retaliate before the final buzzer.

Although the Hawks had their winning streak snapped, the team and coaching staff remain optimistic while approaching conference play beginning next Friday, Sept. 25.

Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Angelo DiMatteo said in his four years as a Hawk, he has never felt more confident going into SUNYAC play.

“Coach has really been pushing us past our physical limits and has really been stressing our possession,” DiMatteo said. “After our first five games, I know we can play with anyone and finally I think the rest of the conference is worried about us.”

Hawks Head Coach Gene Ventriglia believes that winning games at home early has boosted the team’s confidence and said he hasn’t been this excited in a long time. He also said that losses and dips are part of every season.

“No matter how good you are or how good you think you are, over the season you’re going to have dips,” Ventriglia said. “A good team can overcome the dip, the hiccup, and get right back up. We’re going to have hiccups, there’s no question, everybody does. The question is, can we overcome them? Good teams do.”

According to Ventriglia, Vassar is traditionally a good team and was a good test for the Hawks. The contest was physical throughout, as nine fouls and a yellow card were called on the Brewers and eight fouls and a red card on the Hawks. It was good preparation for the teams that the Hawks will face during conference play.

“The conference that we play in is a very physical conference, it’s not very pretty soccer,” Ventriglia said. “We’re a very technical team, we’re not really a physical team, but we can be now with some of the boys we have.”

Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Joe Hughes said that everyone on the team is a key player.

“Everyone pushes each other at practice and it just makes us better and want to work harder,” he said.

In the contest against Vassar, Hawks third-year midfielder Charlie Versen and third-year midfielder and forward Tucker Stern each fired off a shot for the Hawks. Hawks second-year goalkeeper John Guzzo played all 90 minutes and kept the net empty until Vassar’s Palmer fired a shot into the top right of the goal.

DiMatteo said the loss was a learning experience.

“We didn’t have many shots at all and we need to work on being more dangerous in the offensive third,” DiMatteo said. “I think with a few technical changes we will be ready to go for conference play. Although we lost there is no reason to put our heads down. Vassar is a good team coming out of a strong conference and honestly was our first test this season coming up to conference play. We knew it was going to be a hard fought battle and that’s what it was. I’m proud of everybody on the team for the way we played, the intensity was awesome and we all felt it on the field. Everybody played with their hearts and there is not much more I could ask for.”

In conference play last year, the Hawks won one game and tied two.

Ventriglia said that he hopes that the boys will be able to overcome their past and forget how they performed last year and live up to the excitement the team feels.

“I hate the word ‘potential,’ it’s a very dirty word, I don’t use it,” Ventriglia said. “It means you’re not there yet, it’s like fool’s gold, it hasn’t happened! You want reality. This year, this team to me, is the first real glimpse of what we should be like. It’s not the finished product, but it’s a good feeling and I would like to leave them on a high note.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 23 the Hawks beat Bard College 2-1.

With a record of 5-1, the Hawks will next begin State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) play and will face SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oswego on the road on Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26,  respectively.