Chelsea Sookra, Staff Writer |
The nationally ninth-ranked Cortland men’s soccer team held off late heavy pressure to record a 1-0 win over SUNY Oneonta. Riley Williams, a junior, scored his first goal of the season in the second half during the SUNYAC men’s soccer action.
Cortland advanced to 13-2-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference. They also beat New Paltz on Oct. 23, clinching the top spot in the upcoming league playoffs. The Red Dragons dropped to 9-3-2 overall and 5-2-1 in the SUNYAC.
“It was a fantastic encounter between two excellent teams,” Head Coach Iain Byrne stated. “Once again, we struggled to capitalize on our opportunities.”
Despite the fact that the game is typically played at a slow pace, each team had numerous good chances over the 90 minutes. The first two opportunities were generated by Cortland. Nate Hanna (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker) of Oneonta made a leaping save on a one-time chance by Cortland’s Nicholas Pfeiffer off a loose ball after a corner kick in the 16th minute. Hanna blocked Cortland sophomore Jack Coleman’s bid from the left side in the 19th minute.
Oneonta sophomore John Bernardi (Mahopac/Mahopac) curled a 25-yard shot barely over the crossbar four minutes later. Coleman was alone deep on the left side of the box in the 42nd minute and struck a loose ball that Hanna saved. Braden Melveney then made a diving stop near the left post in the 43rd minute on a shot by Oneonta senior Jeremy Pantoni (Goshen/Goshen) to keep the game scoreless.
In the 58th minute, the Red Dragons came close to scoring the game’s opening goal, but sophomore Aaron Harrison (Archbald, PA/Valley View) missed high with an open chance from 25 yards out. Williams scored the game-winning goal in the 65th minute. He curled a direct kick into the left corner of the goal after a Cortland player was fouled just outside the box on the right side, giving Cortland the 1-0 lead.
After Williams’ goal, Oneonta increased its offensive pressure, earning eight of the game’s 12 corner kicks. Melveney had to make a diving save at the right post in the 70th minute on a shot by Oneonta junior Ethan Brunell (Clifton Park/Shenendehowa). Oneonta junior Lucas Fecci (Somers/Somers) dribbled past multiple defenders in the 84th minute to set up his shot from the right side deep in the box, but Melveney denied the attempt as the ball crossed the goal line. With 45 seconds left, Oneonta had one more shot float high, but Cortland was able to keep the ball out of danger and clinch the 1-0 victory.
Melveney made seven saves for Cortland to earn his eighth shutout of the season. Hanna (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker) made four saves for Oneonta.
Byrne ended by saying, “It doesn’t matter if you can’t complete some of the chances because the shots were 19-7. To be fair, Hanna did make a couple of outstanding saves.”
Oneonta finished their SUNYAC regular season against SUNY Oswego, winning a close 2-0 game. Hopefully, our Red Dragons can keep the momentum going as they host Oswego in the first round of the SUNYAC playoffs. The game will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 1p.m.