SUNYAC holds freshman forward back from superstardom

Freshman phenom Michelle Bateman was thought to be a shoe-in for a first-team placement in the women’s soccer SUNYAC all-conference team awards.

But when the results were revealed, she ranked low for her stellar performance, being placed on the third team, while a SUNY Oneonta freshman forward took a first-team honor.

"Shelly [Bateman] had one of the best freshman years, and seasons for that matter, in Oswego State history," head coach Brian McGrane said. "Her ability to make such an impact right away is unheard of."

Bateman outscored the entire SUNYAC, clinching 37 points with 16 goals and five assists, said Oswego State Sports Information Director Adele Burk. The second-highest ranking player, SUNY Fredonia forward Lauren Heilweil, tallied far behind Bateman with 22 points and 10 goals.

Bateman also tied for fourth place in assists throughout the conference. Not to mention she tied with Heilweil, a senior, and Geneseo senior Eileen Coyle, for first place in game-winning goals.

So why did 23 girls beat out Bateman for a spot on the first or second all-conference teams? Why did Bateman, a superstar freshman, receive merely a third-team recognition when she was at the same level of play as seniors?

SUNYAC Commissioner Patrick Damore said situations like this happen more often than one would think.

"This has happened quite a bit over the past few years," he said. "Somebody has made the All-Conference team and not made SUNYAC standings before. It’s completely up to the coaches’ votes, so if they don’t vote for the player, then they don’t make the SUNYAC team."

The criteria for SUNYAC awards and determining what player gets placed on what team relies solely on the votes of the SUNYAC coaches, McGrane said.

"Each coach votes for three forwards, three midfielders, three defenders and one goalie per team [in the SUNYAC standings]," he said. "Each coach also has one extra vote per position per team."

Damore elaborated on the criteria, explaining that the coaches vote for each player individually, and then the votes are tallied. The person with the highest-ranking votes gets placed on the first team, and the trend continues until every slot is filled.

The statistics coaches have available to them when they vote are based on conference-only statistics, which is where Bateman’s numbers drop slightly, Burk said.

"She [Bateman] is really misleading because she had such good stats," Burk said. "But her numbers were lower in the conference. Most of her points came out of conference, so she wouldn’t rank as high. "

Bateman tallied nine points with four goals and one assist in conference-only standings, according to the SUNYAC Web site. She registered only one game-winning goal as well. These statistics place her lower in the rankings when it comes time to vote.

"It caught me off guard when it was announced she made [third-team]," Burk said. "But it’s just one of those things that once we put everything in, things change…the good teams were able to shut her down."

Oneonta was one of those teams, defeating Oswego State 4-0 on Oct. 24. Bateman was held to three shots with only one being on goal, and she didn’t register any goals or assists for the game.

These statistics provide insight into why Oneonta forward Kayla Brantmeyer received first-team recognition over Bateman. Brantmeyer, also a freshman, capitalized on her one shot on goal Oct. 24, dodging goalkeeper Holly Lyndaker on a breakaway and sending the ball into the back of the net.

"The freshman from Oneonta [Brantmeyer] is a very, very good player," McGrane said. "I voted for her for first team and really thought she was their best player. She is very aggressive and skilled, and made for an easy choice, at least in my eyes, for first team."

Brantmeyer was also voted as the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year Nov. 11.

Although some may think Bateman deserved a higher ranking in the SUNYAC awards, Bateman is happy with the coaches’ decisions.

"I’m just happy because I’m a freshman and that’s really good [to make an all-conference team]," she said. "I think I played well this season, but I need to work on not second-guessing myself so I do even better."

Bateman is still waiting to hear about the results of the Regional standings, which are typically released in December, Burk said.

"It will be interesting to see how she ranks in Regionals," Burk said. "She definitely has talent. As soon as she touches the ball, she always has a chance to score."