Lakers fall short in first 2 games

Lakers’ senior captain Zach Saccocio controls the ball in a game during the Oswego State Men’s Soccer Tournament at Laker Field last weekend.  (Photo provided by Sports Information)
Lakers’ senior captain Zach Saccocio controls the ball in a game during the Oswego State Men’s Soccer Tournament at Laker Field last weekend. (Photo provided by Sports Information)

The 2013 Oswego State men’s soccer tournament was a weekend to remember with own goals, extra time and players being carried off the field.

The send-off contest of the tournament between the Alfred University Saxons and Oswego State proved most exciting. The large amount of whistles and cards slowed down play, but upped the intensity as well.

The Lakers came out with life and seemed to have the advantage in the match’s early stages, yet the visitors used aggressive play to keep Oswego State off the board. Saxon forward Brendan Collins received the game’s first booking in the 10th minute for his use of expletives following a shoving match with Oswego State freshman fullback, Mitch Brickman. That was just the tip of the iceberg in a game that saw six yellow cards drawn, three for each squad.

Both teams enjoyed periods of great opportunity during the opening 45 minutes. First, the Lakers used solid combinations startingoff the feet of Brickman and fellow defender senior Brandyn Peters to pressure the opposition.

Matthew Unick, Alfred’s sophomore goalie, had encouraging words that may have kept the team focused throughout the contest’s heated moments.

Early season issues seemed to plague Oswego State, as passes were sloppy, players were caught offside and numerous shots sailed over the crossbar.

The Saxon defense did well when delivering their slide tackles to end breaks and Unick was a rock, but Oswego missed a number of chances to turn the tide.

“It’s early. Life isn’t easy, so a soccer season isn’t going to be easy either and we’re going to have to play through some adversity,” Oswego State head coach Robert Friske said. “We have to work on our mistakes, the little things, and try to become a better team.”

Finally, in the 81st minute, Alfred’s senior captain Jeffery Thomas headed a ball off a corner in the direction of freshman Oumar Soumahoro who took advantage of a hole in the Lakers’ defense and put Alfred in the driver’s seat with a 1-0 lead.

Alfred University head coach Scott Miller sees a promising future for his young midfielder/defender, who took the tournament’s most valuable player award for his efforts.

“He’s a phenomenal player and I think he can play at the next level already,” Miller said. “He’s an absolute physical presence. He’s got composure like no other player on the field. It’s fun to watch him. He affects the game no matter where he is on the field.”

In Saturday’s first matchup, it appeared that the Morrisville State Mustangs, coming off a 2-1 win Friday afternoon against Alfred, had the tournament title in their grasp, only needing a draw with Houghton College to share the title at worst.

In Friday’s action, the Lakers got off to a quick start against Houghton.

Senior captain Mike Naab led the charge and found himself in the Oswego offensive third early and often.

Friske started three freshmen for Friday’s contest, including Brickman at fullback. Brickman got involved in the offense right away in his first regular season collegiate match.

“It feels good to get off running and just get the hang of the game,” Brickman said. “They’re really fast and they’re really strong. It’s just really nice to be out here and get the start, especially as a freshman.”

Another freshman in the lineup this weekend was goalkeeper Jon Runge. A four-year starter in high school at nearby Cicero-North, the young netminder did not see a threat in his first game until the latter stages of the second half, but nonetheless he earned valuable experience moving forward.

“I think we played a good game today, but there’s definitely a lot to learn. We have to play at a higher pace and after we let a goal in, we’ve got to keep pushing ourselves,” Runge said.

Runge’s teammates were the dominant force on the field for most of the game, capturing the lead in the 17th minute on a goal by senior Ryan Tibbetts.

However, Houghton slowly took advantage of Oswego State’s missed chances to put the game away and found their equalizer with just over 12 minutes to go. The Lakers’ defense saw its first lapse of the match open the door for Cory Martin to find freshman Landon Sheaffer.

Sheaffer’s strike evened the score and forced the game into extra time, which in this weekend’s tournament meant two 10 minute sudden death periods, with the game ending in a draw if no one scored.

The additional 20 minutes of play were marked with streaky play by both teams. The defenses on each side were able to thwart the opposition’s turns toward goal for the most part as Runge made the only save of the added time in the second period.

The Lakers and Highlanders finished the game with a combined 24 shots (14 on goal), but only scored one goal each.

The tournament’s opening game consisted of a matchup between Morrisville and Alfred. Morrisville came away with a 1-0 victory, which set the stage for their championship showdown with Houghton.

When the festivities came to a close on Saturday evening, Houghton College was atop with a 1-0-1 record and four points. Morrisville State and Alfred followed with 1-1 records (three points) respectively and the hosts, Oswego State, rounded off the standings at 0-1-1 (1 point).

Joining Houghton’s goalie Jacob Dunnett on the All-Tournament team was freshman defender Alan Peckham from Morrisville State, senior midfielder Ryan Tibbetts from Oswego State and freshman midfielder Graeme Corrigan from Alfred University.

Oswego State is back in action at 1 p.m. at Laker Field on Saturday against Nazareth College (1-2).

Andrew Pugliese
Contributing Writer
sports@oswegonian.com