Men’s Soccer Looks Ahead Despite Setbacks

After a 1-1 start to open SUNYAC play, the Men’s Soccer team is looking to reload and recover.

The Hawks pulled out a win during a tight match Friday against SUNY Oswego, as they edged the Lakers 3-2 in overtime with a goal from third-year defender Stephen Browne 4:39 minutes into the extra session. But the fight was not won without some casualties.

Third-year Captain Alec Johnson, third-year Captain Brian Spina and fourth-year midfielder Bernardo Menendez, the team’s leading scorer, all suffered injuries before time was called ending regulation, said Head Coach Gene Ventriglia.

“This is very typical of our conference,” Ventriglia said. “There are many teams that play very physically.”

The injuries to the three starters impacted the team’s performance against SUNY Cortland the following day, where the Hawks dropped their second SUNYAC game to the Red Dragons 6-1.

Ventriglia is hopeful Johnson and Menendez will make a fully recovery soon, but is pessimistic about a possible quick recovery for Spina, who obtained a crippling hamstring injury during Friday’s game, he said.

“The psyche of the team suffers when you have three key players hurt,” Ventriglia said.

He added that deciding to rest injured players or risk the potential of further injury by playing them was, and will continue to be, a crucial decision.

“The reality of the situation is that there are five teams fighting for two playoff spots, and we are one of those teams,” Ventriglia said. He said Cortland, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Brockport are teams he already pegs being within the top four of their conference. This leaves the Hawks competing for a spot on the playoff bracket against Oswego, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Potsdam and Buffalo State.

“I don’t know if I could see us winning one of those two spots without our currently injured players playing,” Ventriglia said. “Their recovery will be a key element to our success.”

Looking forward, the team hopes to take their experience gained on the road last week and bring it back to Alumni Field, as the Hawks battle against Brockport and Geneseo this weekend on their home turf.

Third-year goalkeeper Steven Domino, who has started seven of the team’s nine games in goal, said the team needs to play at a higher level in order to win their upcoming games.

“The team’s potential was not reached last weekend,” Domino said. “We came out flat-footed, and we need to find a way to come out stronger. We need to find a way to consistently play our game.”

Johnson said the team will need to win at least one SUNYAC game every weekend from now until the end of the regular season in order to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Ventriglia said that his team can reach the playoffs if they work hard and stay focused.

“There are no easy teams in our conference, no teams that are pushovers,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, but if we remain confident, it’s doable.”