Oswego offense struggles in stalemate

Shots on goal were few and far between on Tuesday when the Oswego State men’s soccer team played to a 0-0 draw against Hamilton College in a defensive battle at Laker Field.

After 110 minutes of play, neither side was able to put the ball in the back of the net and the game ended after double overtime. The Lakers put two shots on Hamilton keepr Eric Boole while senior Marcus LaRobardiere made four saves as Oswego State’s last line of defense.

The Laker defense played well throughout the contest, stymieing the Hamilton attack. The Continentals earned 11 corner kicks during the match, but were unable to convert on their opportunities as an array of Oswego State defenders managed to get the ball out of harm’s way each time.

When the time came for LaRobardiere to step up and make a key save, he was there to answer the call. The biggest save was made with just over two minutes to play in regulation when Hamilton forward Dillon Friday gained control of the ball just inside the 18 yard box. Friday ripped a shot on net, but LaRobardiere made a dive to his left, sending the ball out of bounds and preserving the tie in the process.

"I think we played well defensively and in the midfield," LaRobardiere said. "We’re not finishing yet because we’re not getting as many shots on goal as we need to."

The Lakers had their best chance to beat the Hamilton goalie as time was expiring at the end of the first half. Junior co-captain Bryan Pacchiana took a free kick from just over the midfield line and sent a booming drive inside the Hamilton box. The pass nearly found freshman Ryan Tibbetts about eight yards away from the goal line, but the ball barely missed Tibbetts’ sliding leg as the final seconds expired in the first half.

Pacchiana accounted for the Lakers’ two shots on goal, both of which came from free kicks. His ability to send the ball down field easily and accurately is a weapon the Lakers’ coaching staff is happy to have.

"Not only does Bryan have our backing in regard to taking free kicks, but he has a good leg on him to get the ball inside a dangerous area," assistant coach Darren Wynne said.

The coaches for Oswego State trust Pacchiana to use his judgment to know where to go with the ball; he took nearly all of the Lakers’ 16 free kicks.

"To get Bryan involved as much as you can, to direct play as our ball is into the box is essential for him because he’s a good, quality player," Wynne said.

The harsh winds played a factor throughout the contest with shots and passes seeming to have a mind of their own. Shots for both teams sailed over the net without testing the respective goalies and keeping the match a scoreless tie.

The best chance for either side came with just over two minutes gone by in the second half of regulation. Hamilton forward Anthony Balbo received a pass a few feet left of the Oswego State six yard box, but could not seize the opportunity, sending his shot directly into the side of the net.

"I felt good, the defense played really well," LaRobardiere said. "I think as a unit we’re playing well and shifting well."

Bob Friske, head coach for the Lakers, said he has three solid goal keepers on his roster and each of them deserve to start at times. Friske and Wynne are looking for the Lakers to get more shots on goal in future contests.

The Lakers used a wide array of players in the match as 18 players on the roster saw some time on Tuesday. Friske has different reasons for this strategy, depending on how his team is performing.

"Some kids struggle and we want to give them a little bit of break to talk to them, some kids are playing well, we just want to give them a breather," Friske said. "It’s a team sport and we want to try to use everybody."

While a tie is not an ideal result, the Lakers are not fretting over the outcome.

"A good program like Hamilton is always good for us to get a tie out of and it’s a good foundation going into Saturday’s game," Wynne said.

The Lakers start SUNYAC play this Saturday when they square off against SUNY Cortland.