Wyatt Cushman, Staff Writer |
Playoff soccer was upon us this weekend here at SUNY Oneonta. On both Saturday and Sunday our men’s soccer team took the field in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament in hopes of advancing further, and ultimately winning a National Championship. The men won the SUNYAC Conference tournament the weekend before and were hoping to ride the momentum created by that tremendous feat.
Earlier last week the seedings and matchups came out, telling teams all around the country where they would be playing and whom they would be playing. SUNY Oneonta had no problems with their situation after the pairings were announced as they would host both the first and second rounds. Oneonta would face off against WPI in the first game at Red Dragon Field on Saturday, followed by a battle between the University of Rochester and Connecticut College. The winners were set to clash on Sunday once again at Red Dragon Field.
Against WPI on Saturday, we saw what playoff soccer is all about. An electric atmosphere combined with a dramatic ending made for one of the better games this season. None of that would have mattered without a Red Dragon victory though, and luckily that’s exactly what we got in the end. Defense was the highlight of this one, with neither team finding the back of the net through the first 90 minutes of play. Next came overtime, and then another overtime, but still the defense from both sides held strong. With the score still deadlocked at zero after two overtime periods, we headed to a shootout. After five shots each, we were still tied with no end in sight, but on the very next round that all changed. Oneonta goal-keeper Nick Lindovski stopped the next shot from WPI, meaning if Oneonta’s Justin Cebollero converted his next shot, the Red Dragons would advance. The Junior did not waste his opportunity, burying his shot to send Oneonta to Sunday’s second round where they would face Rochester, the winner of the other game.
The emotional win on Saturday was a fun one for Oneonta, but all that fun came to an end on Sunday. Oneonta lost to Rochester 2-1, after a hard-fought game by both squads. This game looked to be a duplicate of Saturday’s game, with the score tied 0-0 after the end of the first half, but unlike Saturday, we saw each team breakthrough in the second half. With Rochester leading 2-1 in the 89th minute, Oneonta was given a penalty shot after a handball was called. This was the chance for Oneonta to keep their hopes alive, but the shot was saved by Rochester’s goalie, time ran out, and the season ended for Oneonta.
Oneonta ended the season with a record of 15-2-3; they were SUNYAC Champions, and they left us all proud of their efforts on the field. Although they fell short of their goal, we all loved watching them play, as they gave us a lot to cheer about this season. The highly successful senior class will leave behind a great legacy, as they were able to accomplish things many players only dream of, including two trips to the NCAA Final Four. We know the entire team was disappointed with the outcome, but they can hold their heads high because they gave everything they had.