The Oswego State men’s soccer team advanced to the final of its inaugural tournament before being upset by Alfred University 2-1 in the championship on Saturday afternoon.
The tournament kicked off on Friday as the Lakers took on the Gators of Sage Colleges. It was the first ever NCAA game for the Gators, a team that consists of 22 freshmen on a 26-man roster.
Sage showed no fear early, as they took the ball up the field and got a good look at goal. Lakers’ senior goalie Matt Wopperer made the save to protect Oswego State from an early deficit. Chances were few and far between for most of the first half, but each team had one great opportunity that they weren’t able to convert.
The Lakers’ chance came in the 31st minute when a hard shot by sophomore Brandon Carnovale hit the chest of Gator goalie Carmen Volpe and bounced around in the box. Freshman forward Cruz Walcott was there, but was unable to control the rebound.
Sage’s chance came three minutes later when Chris Peralta settled the ball in the box and chipped Wopperer, but the shot drifted over the goal.
Oswego State took control in the second half, but struggled to finish on early chances. In the 57th minute. Volpe made an errant pass to one of his defenders that was intercepted by Laker junior Max Guliani, who was tripped just outside the box.
Oswego State senior captain German Collazo took the free kick. He pushed a pass across the box to fellow captain and junior Bryan Pacchiana, who fired a hard shot on net that got through the hands of Volpe for the first goal of the season for the Lakers.
"We’ve been working a lot on set pieces," Oswego State coach Robert Friske said. "It might not have been the best shot in the world, but he was able to get it off and get in on goal."
Oswego State held Sage off for the rest of the game to advance to the tournament championship. Each team finished the game with seven shots and a lone corner kick and each goalkeeper recorded four saves. Friske knew it could have gone either way.
"I thought they (Sage) played great," Friske said. "They’re more fit than us. They deserved to be in the game."
In the tournament’s other semifinal Alfred took the momentum from a late game-tying goal and powered by Grove City in penalty kicks. The Saxons of Alfred are a team that the Lakers beat 2-1 last season and were confident they could top again, according to Friske.
Poor weather conditions led to sloppy play for the first 20 minutes of the game. The trend was broken by Alfred sophomore Frankie Mannino, who headed in a corner kick from fellow sophomore Tony Gai in the 23rd minute. The ball went over the hands of Wopperer and bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and over the goal line. Friske cited bad communication on the corner kick by his team, which left Mannino alone in the box. Oswego State answered back just over a minute later on yet another set play. This time it was Carnovale with the assist and senior Dean Gaetano with the finish, beating Saxon goalie Elliot Thorpe.
"We are scoring all of our goals right now out of set pieces because we are organized, but getting scored on in the second half means are legs are failing us," Friske said.