The Oswego State men’s soccer season got off to a great start Friday night, but the good times quickly came to an end as the Lakers would go on to lose their following two games to begin the season 1-2.
Their lone win thus far came in grand fashion, as the Lakers thrashed Old Westbury, 4-0, at Laker Field on Friday.
Sophomore Ryan Purdy gave the team a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the season. Purdy credited sophomore captain Zack Saccocio, who assisted the goal.
“He took this one kid down baseline, beat him, put a left footed cross-in, it went over one of my teammate’s head and I just buried it in the corner,” Purdy said.
Saccocio didn’t stop there, as he assisted the team’s second goal, scored by sophomore Eric Widanka.
“The assists are only a product of kids crashing the net and my teammates being in the right spot. Without them, it would never happen,” Saccocio said.
The captain was also very vocal on the field, calling out plays on both sides of the ball. He said that his talking on the field is something that head coach Robert Friske stresses a lot in practice.
After building a 2-0 lead, the Lakers tacked on two more goals. With 13:22 remaining in the game, junior Andrew McBride put one in the back of the net after receiving a pass from sophomore Greg Rabideau.
Eight minutes later, freshman Matthew Hettler burst onto the scene with Oswego State’s fourth goal of the game, assisted by fellow freshman, Ryan Ivers.
The Lakers were clearly the dominant team Friday night, showing great discipline, passing and hustle. However, Saturday’s matinee affair with visiting Medaille College proved to be a different story.
“They are a fast team and I wanted to see if our size matched up with their speed, being that we are a very big team,” Friske said.
Medaille’s speed proved to be too much for the Lakers, as they fell, 2-0, to the Mavericks. Oswego State tried to play a physical game, but Medaille proved to be equally, if not more, physical. The physicality of the game proved to be costly for the Lakers, as they racked up three yellow cards.
“Cards are uncharacteristic of any of my teams,” Friske said. “The referees reacted to emotion, which is what it looked like to me. We have never had a problem with cards since I have been here, so when things start getting out of hand, usually something is out of context, because half of my coaching style is making sure that my players stay mature within chaos,” Friske said.
There was some questionable officiating throughout the game, frustrating players on both teams, but Friske did not blame the referees for the loss.
“It was not the referees who won or lost the game,” Friske said. “Our team has to be good enough to score goals whether the referees miss a call or two or not.”
Despite the loss, the host Lakers were optimistic about their next match. Wednesday afternoon’s game against Hamilton was somewhat of a heartbreaking loss. The Lakers seemed ready for Hamilton, playing a dominant first half against the Continentals. A free kick for sophomore Drew Bordash assisted sophomore captain Jim Manton’s outstanding header, to put Oswego State up 1-0 with just 1:15 left in the first half.
The Lakers closed out the first half staying aggressive on offense and playing suffocating defense. The second half got a little ugly, as the Lakers again were called for numerous yellow cards. The first yellow card, called on Naab, proved to be the costliest. Just 18 seconds after the card, Hamilton tied the game at 1-1 after a fast break goal by senior Anthony Balbo.
The game remained tied until there was 16:38 remaining when sophomore Griffin Abbot gave Hamilton a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. The Lakers turned on the jets for the final few minutes, but were unable to squeeze out a goal.
Despite the loss, Friske found some positives from the game.
“I thought Noah (Clemmer) is one of the exceptional freshmen helping us out this season,” Friske said. “Pat Sprague, another freshmen, comes in and is fitting in at the Division III level very well and he’s going to be a great player for four years,” Friske said.
Friske remains optimistic, saying that this young team will only get better with experience.
Five different Lakers have scored goals this season, including Purdy, who leads the team in shots with five, and shots on goal with three. Purdy has now scored three career goals at Oswego State.
McBride’s goal is the second of his career, while Manton, Widanka and Hettler’s goals were their first.
Saccocio leads the team with two assists, already matching the total he put together in his freshman year. Other Lakers with assists on the season are Bordash, Rabideau and Ivers.
Senior goalkeepers PJ Goodwin and Pat Breen have both made starts this season. Goodwin started against Old Westbury and Medaille College, allowing just two goals combined in both of his starts.
Breen made his start against Hamilton and played well, only allowing two goals in the 1-2 loss.
The Lakers take on Nazareth on Saturday. Oswego defeated Nazareth last season, 1-0. The game starts at 3 p.m.