Casey Ryder, Contributing Writer |
The SUNY Oneonta Men’s soccer team improved its record to 4-0-1 on Saturday, Sept. 18th with a 2-1 win over RIT. The team remains unbeaten thanks to goals from junior forward Lucas Fecci and freshmen midfielder Owen Siegel. The Red Dragons controlled the game throughout most of the first half and were rewarded for their dominant play when Fecci headed in a cross from junior defender Ethan Brunell. They were also rewarded when they won a penalty kick a few minutes before halftime. The penalty kick was initially saved by RIT goalkeeper Jason Trapp, but Siegel was well positioned to head in the rebound and extend the Red Dragons’ lead to 2 before the half.
The momentum swung however in the second half as RIT were able to gain more of a foothold in the game. The Tigers pulled one back in the 80th minute when senior defender Adam Wuest scored a towering header off a corner kick. The goal from Wuest gave the game a dramatic ending and it most definitely would’ve made some of the 226 SUNY Oneonta supporters in attendance a little bit nervous. Ultimately the Oneonta defense was solid enough to give the team their fourth win of the season before conference play begins.
“I thought for the first 30 minutes we were excellent, really played well, felt we were on top of the game and then I just felt towards the end of the first half and really for most of the second half we just lost our ability to control the ball and keep the ball. It was just in spurts really where we had some good play and a couple of attacks… at 2-0 at halftime you know you’re looking to try and get a third goal, kinda kill the game a little bit and we just never really did enough. I didn’t think in the second half to see out the game and at the end we were hanging on,” SUNY Oneonta Head Coach Iain Byrne said after the game. Likewise junior goalkeeper Nate Hanna said, “We played really well, let in a goal at the end but we came out with the result, and it was a good win.”
The team now heads into conference play after Saturday’s victory and with the team being unbeaten, there is good reason for optimism. “I think we’ll be competitive,” said Byrne. Byrne continued, “We still got a long way to go to get back to the level we have been at some of the past years, but we got potential, we got some younger players who are starting to show some form. I thought Owen Siegel who got the game winner today, a young freshman it was really his first game, I think he’s had a little bit of action but he came and did well, so these young guys are adjusting to the college game and we need to improve for sure.” Hanna is also confident in the team’s chances. “We’re looking really good going into the conference… we’re spreading out the goals and it’s going to be a good season,” said Hanna.
The team this season is back in action after a year off in 2020 due to the pandemic and both Byrne and Hanna agree that it’s great to be back. “There’s nothing like the Oneonta crowd and the Oneonta community always supporting soccer and I love it here,” Byrne said. Byrne continued, “I don’t know if the stress levels are good for me coming back. I didn’t miss that but it’s just fantastic to see the guys out here training and playing and just the emotion of it all because there is that fear that we could potentially lose this season as well and the guys are born to play and without it’s just such a massive loss in our lives.”
The team will be back in action today, Friday, Sept. 24th, as they take on SUNY Geneseo at 4 p.m. at the Red Dragon Field.