The Men’s Soccer team qualified for SUNYAC tournament play after defeating Buffalo State with a 2-1 score and later blanking SUNY Fredonia to a 5-0 finish this weekend at Marlboro High School.
Second-year midfielder Brian Spina said the team knew their chances at tournament play would depend both on how the other teams played and the skill-level the Hawks brought to their own games.
“I knew we had the team to do it and all we could do was win and do our job and hope that the other games would fall our way,” Spina said. “I thought we could still make the tournament the whole time. Since there were a couple different teams with similar records as us, our hopes were not diminished.”
Spina said his nerves began to fade once the team beat Buffalo State and set their sights on Fredonia.
“We wanted to be in the tournament and knew we could,” Spina said. “That was a huge motivating factor against Fredonia.”
Head Coach Gene Ventriglia said that although the weekend’s games began with a bit of apprehension, the first goal against Buffalo State allowed the team to loosen up and shake their nerves.
“Last weekend was special, but I’m never satisfied,” Ventriglia said. “We want a real and realistic shot at the championships.”
To do this, Ventriglia said the team has to succeed against Brockport during their Oct. 27 match up. However, their last meeting ended in a 5-2 loss due to the absence of two major players, fourth-year Captain Nick DiPaola and third-year midfielder Javier Ventas.
Ventriglia said the real key to the Brockport game will be the mental strength of his team.
“We have to be strong-minded and move the ball,” Ventriglia said. “[Brockport] are physical and mean. They’ll run you over.”
DiPaola said the team is ready for their next meeting with Brockport because they now know how the players move and what to expect on the field.
DiPaola also said that Brockport’s smaller field helps the Golden Eagles’ style of play, which shows a tendency to “kick the ball and have players run after it.”
He said the team knows how to adjust and be successful using what they’ve already learned about the competition.
“They attempt to overload the box on any free kick within range and corners,” DiPaola said. “If we play defense and press them hard on their half of the field, we will win this game. If we keep the ball and play our game, we will win.”
Fourth-year forward Harrison Lane said he was worried the season and his career as a Hawk would end before he got another shot at the playoffs, but that the young team has risen far beyond expectations this season.
“Nobody expected much of anything out of us,” Lane said. “When I look back on how we started our season, I realize how many different players have matured both on and off the field. It is because of them that we have found success at the very right time.”
Lane said he believes the high-stakes pressure of the game will likely help the team succeed.
“Pressure is good,” Lane said. “It will sort out the strong from the weak collegiate players, those who thrive under it and those who can’t take it. Overall, it is important to remember that this is the sport we have all loved to play for our whole lives. If we have fun, stick to our game, we should have no problem handling the pressure.”