Despite the wind on their backs in the first half, third-year Men’s Soccer Captain Brian Spina said the team knew their 2013 campaign was over before their 3-0 loss to SUNYAC rival Buffalo State had ended.
Already down 2-0 before the first half was over, Spina said he and the rest of the team knew before the first 45 minutes had ended that it would be their last time competing in 2013.
“Once we were down 2-0 on their turf, you could kind of see in our demeanor that we knew it was all over,” Spina said. “We really pushed ourselves in those last couple of games, but it wasn’t enough.”
The SUNY New Paltz Men’s Soccer team finished the 2013 season with a 4-12-3 overall record and as the ninth-place team in the conference. The low placement in the conference kept the Hawks from participating in this year’s SUNYAC Tournament, which the team has qualified for the past two seasons.
Third-year Captain Alec Johnson said the season was defined by inconsistency, and that a string of injuries caused a change in roles for some players.
“You never want to blame a poor season on injuries,” Johnson said. “We did see our depth deplete though with some of our players getting injured and because of that, we needed a lot of the freshmen and sophomores to step into larger roles.”
Head Coach Gene Ventriglia said the injuries were the reason for the team not having the same line-up for back-to-back games.
Injuries to fourth-years Bernardo Menendez and Javier Ventas, Spina and Johnson, and second-years Joe Hughes and Kevin Jacobsen hurt the team in the long-run, Ventriglia said.
“This was one of the most frustrating seasons for me, if not the most frustrating,” Ventriglia said. “If players are injured, I’m not the kind of coach who is going to make them continue to play. If a player is hurt, they need to wait until they’re fit to play again.”
But despite the fact that the team hadn’t met the expectations they had set for themselves at the beginning of the season, neither the captains or Ventriglia are looking at it negatively.
Johnson said it’s as if the season never truly ended.
“We’ve all been in the weight room at least three times a week and we’re still at the gym often,” Johnson said. “The attitude we have right now is exactly what you would want it to be after a loss. We’re putting in the work now so we can come back next season and be the team everyone else needs to look out for.”
The team anticipates a large recruiting class, Spina said. With the squad losing five seniors at the end of the year, Spina believes the returning players will benefit from having newcomers challenge them for roster spots.
“This year we had a smaller squad where everyone was able to go on trips and have an opportunity to get minutes in,” he said. “I think coach will have enough players to have a 23-man roster which will also lead to us having a travel squad. I think that will definitely help to motivate the veterans throughout all of next season.”
Ventriglia said he is currently looking for physical players to fit into the team’s technical-minded roster during this recruitment season, along with a “true striker” who will add to the Hawks’ score sheet.
He said the need for a scorer and more physical players will make them a tougher competitor in the SUNYAC.
“Whenever we go up against a more physical team, we tend to not play as well because we have players who are very technical,” Ventriglia said. “We really need players, especially in the back, who are going to make a forward think twice about what their next action is going to be.”
Despite the season ending sooner than expected, Ventriglia sees this as a positive going into next season.
“I think right now the players who are returning feel the need to prove we’re a good team,” he said. “They’re working really hard as a group to prepare for next season. I think there’s a lot of heart on this team and it will definitely help us for next year.”