Winning ways end early for young men’s soccer team

It’s all over. The final game has been played. The equipment has been packed up and the leaves have begun to change color. The Oswego State men’s soccer team’s season is over, and it was a disappointment.

The Lakers ended their 5-10-1 campaign with a 3-2 overtime loss to SUNY Cortland Saturday at Laker Field. The loss marked the end of a streak that saw the Lakers drop nine of their last 10 games. For the first time in over seven years, the Lakers failed to win a single conference game. Injury and inexperience conspired to undermine the Lakers’ season, which started promisingly with the team winning five of its first six games.

Injuries affected the Lakers early when fifth-year senior and co-captain, German Collazo suffered his second season-ending injury in as many years. The star midfielder fell victim to a knee injury before the season began. Senior Lucas Petite and sophomore Andrew McBride followed Collazo to the DL. Junior P.J. Goodwin and senior Bryan Pacchiana were also among the walking wounded.

“All season we were pretty beat up,” said senior defenseman Jake Honan. “Each of us had our own little injuries here and there that we had to miss games for.”

Andrew Bordash was one of seven freshmen starting in the Lakers injury-riddled lineup.

“I thought that a few of us really came, stepped up and played well,” he said. “But none of us really understood the whole SUNYAC. It’s a whole other level of intensity. Bigger kids, they hit harder, and you get knocked around easier.”

The injuries forced the Lakers, already the youngest team in the conference to dig deep into their young reserves.

“We had 17 newcomers and 14 returners, a lot more new comers than returners,” said assistant coach Antony Greene said. “With [SUNYAC] being such a competitive league, having such an inexperienced team made it hard for us to compete.”

Lakers head coach Robert Friske echoed Greene’s sentiment.

“I remember two or three weeks ago saying that we looked more like an M*A*S*H unit than a soccer team,” he said.

The Lakers claim that the injuries bought them together as a cohesive group.

“This is a close-knit group,” Honan said. “We’re good friends on and off the field.”

“We’re [the] Oswego State soccer team; we’re a family,” Collazo said.

With a roster of 17 sophomores, next year’s returners will use the experience gained during the injury-laden 2011 season. The 2012 Lakers will use that advantage in attempting to become a dominate force in SUNYAC.

“It’s all about experience at the college level,” Pettit said. “It’s about having more games under your belt and knowing not to make those mistakes again.”