The Oswego State men’s soccer team fell to SUNY Oneonta, 4-0, on Saturday, one day after losing a heartbreaking game to SUNY New Paltz, 3-2, on Friday to open up SUNYAC play.
The two weekend losses gives Oswego State an 0-7-1 record, with an 0-2 mark in conference play.
In Saturday’s match against Oneonta (6-2-2, 2-0 SUNYAC), Oswego State freshman goalie John Runge saw three second-half SUNY Oneonta shots on frame, and all three found their way into the goal, sealing the Lakers’ fate.
The chances were few and far between for the hosts in the final 45 minutes of the game, as the Red Dragons applied pressure and dominated possession.
Just about seven minutes into the second half, Oneonta State scored its second goal of the game off the foot of senior forward Luke Halberg. The service came in from sophomore midfielder Colin Volpe. Halberg settled it, set up and calmly grounded his shot through traffic and into the bottom left corner of the net.
The visitors’ second score would be the one to turn the tide for the remaining 38 minutes of action.
A minute and a half later, the Red Dragons were back in their offensive third, as sophomore midfielder and team-leading scorer Dylan Williams led Oneonta on the attack.
The only offensive tactic that seemed to be working in Oswego State’s favor was its ability to draw fouls and set up free kicks.
However, after an Oswego State set piece was foiled by the visiting keeper, junior Daniel DeBottis, the Red Dragons came right down and capitalized on the Lakers’ missed opportunity.
A group of Red Dragons loaded the box around Runge and, after a shot by Volpe rang off the cross bar, Williams came right back with a grounder across the box to expand the advantage to three with 30 minutes to play.
Oswego State continued to try different combinations in order to move the ball upfield, but the sheer presence of Oneonta left sophomore Patrick Sprague, reigning Oswego State men’s Athlete of the Week, and senior Mike Naab unable to create a solid opportunity.
With about 16 minutes to go, the Red Dragons put the last score of the game on the board as a rebound found sophomore forward Zef Saljanin who was able to finish the job. A ball from left of the box was saved by Runge and Saljanin was there to finish and grab his second goal of the match and fifth of the season.
In the opening 45 minutes, Oswego State faced a great amount of pressure from the Red Dragons.
Even though Runge and junior defenseman Eric Widanka and Jim Manton were able to play successful prevent defense for most of the half, a lack of communication between the Lakers’ goalie and the back four was prevalent.
The lack of connection between the Oswego State back-end was exposed in the 38th minute when Saljanin beat Runge for what would be the game-winner.
On the offensive end, the Lakers’ coaching staff saw some positive out of senior midfielder Ryan Tibbetts. Even though Tibbetts was kept off the score sheet against Oneonta, his overall play made his coaches optimistic going forward.
“He was getting up there and getting in the play and combining very well,” Assistant Coach Brett Littlefield said. “If we can keep him clicking and working with everyone else I think we’ll be successful going forward.”
Along with Tibbetts, reserves such as freshman Paul Kwoyelo and Brody Magro performed well in the eyes of head coach Robert Friske, despite limited action.
“They’re excellent young players that we’re trying to get more experience so they can be seasoned, even this year,” Friske said.
In Friday’s game against SUNY New Paltz (2-5-2, 1-1 SUNYAC), Oswego State was taken to overtime for the third time this season. For the second time in those three occurrences, the Lakers came out on the losing end, falling to the Hawks 3-2.
About halfway through the first overtime period, freshman Paul Wehner found his fellow junior defender Stephen Browne for the game-winning goal. The grounder was just another example of a lapse in the hosts’ defense, as they allowed an easy chance to sneak through.
Friske recognizes that his back four and goalie are still getting used to each other and that progress needs to be made.
“The backs need to have a little more faith in their goalie and the goalie needs to have a little more faith in their backs,” Friske said. “We have to limit some of the confusion back there.”
The goal came just a few moments after the Hawks missed their only other threatening opportunity of the period, after a Runge save.
With 12 minutes remaining, Lakers’ senior midfielder Brendan Beisner found senior captain Mike Naab for Oswego State’s best opportunity of the allotted time. However, Naab’s shot sailed over the cross bar.
The Hawks had a promising chance of their own in the 83rd minute when a Hawks’ shot eluded Runge and made it to the goal line. However, Widanka was there to make the save.
Just before the lulled final minutes of the game, Oswego State found an equalizer during a rather dominant performance the first 30 minutes of the second half by the visiting Hawks.
With about 18 minutes to play in regulation, Naab took a ball from senior Eddie Silvestro at the six-yard box and weaved his way past the Hawks net minder, junior Steven Domino, for the score. The goal was Naab’s second of the season.
In the 55th minute, senior forward Javier Veras took advantage of space in the box and drilled home the go-ahead goal.
The goal, assisted by senior midfielder Max Kornstein, was Veras’ first of the 2013 season.
In the first half, Oswego State got off to a quick start after an offensive zone throw-in by Manton.
Beisner recovered the ball and found Sprague for the game’s first score 42 seconds into the game. The goal was Sprague’s second of the 2013 campaign.
Sprague is embracing his role as an offensive leader and a goal-scorer thus far in his sophomore campaign.
“I’ve got to put the ball in the net and then if I do that, as long as we keep getting goals, we’ll start winning,” Sprague said. “So, I’ve just got to do my part, just like everyone else. Hopefully I can do that for us.”
From that point, SUNY New Paltz would up the pressure and control the ball for the majority of the 45-minute frame.
The Hawks were finding open passing lanes and getting shots through to the Lakers’ keeper.
Finally, in the 15th minute, New Paltz scored the game-tying goal when sophomore defenseman Kevin Jacobsen sent in a shot that sailed over Runge’s head.
The Hawks did not stop the pressure there. They continued to control possession in such a fashion that Friske could be heard from across the field calling for his players to step up their play.
Oswego State found life in the middle of the first half but a lack of cohesive chances left its opportunities unfruitful.
The Lakers’ counter attacks against the New Paltz pressure left them playing with little chance of finding a second score.
Oswego State finds itself at the bottom of the SUNYAC standings following the two losses last weekend.
In the Lakers’ current position, Friske believes his squad must sweep both matches this weekend and split the other five games to qualify for the postseason.
Although the task may seem steep, Friske still has hope in his players.
“We’re backing ourselves into a corner pretty early, but I have confidence we can become a playoff team quickly if we right our wrongs,” Friske said.
Oswego State heads back on the road this weekend as SUNYAC play continues. The Lakers will hit the road to take on SUNY Plattsburgh (7-1-1,1-0) on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. before traveling to SUNY Potsdam on Saturday to take on the Bears (6-4, 0-1) at 1 p.m.