Lakers stand ground with draws

Freshman Josh Yager looks to control the ball during Saturday’s game against SUNY Geneseo. The Lakers donned pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness.  (Perry Kennedy | The Oswegonian)
Freshman Josh Yager looks to control the ball during Saturday’s game against SUNY Geneseo. The Lakers donned pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness. (Perry Kennedy | The Oswegonian)

The Oswego State men’s soccer team (0-9-5, 0-4-4) had its most successful weekend of the season against The College at Brockport (8-1-5, 3-1-3) and SUNY Geneseo (6-7-3, 3-3-1), playing to a 0-0 draw and 1-1 tie, respectively.

The weekend was not marked by the goals scored — only two — but rather by the presence of pink around Laker Field as the squad supported Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“Brandyn Peters organized Breast Cancer Weekend,” head coach Robert Friske said. “He took the effort to purchase the kits and organize the pink lines.”

The two game series was Oswego State’s annual fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness, a project spear headed by Peters, a senior defensemen.

Along with the pink jersey worn for Saturday’s contest and the pink lines on the pitch, the Lakers also played with a pink ball this weekend and had a 50-50 raffle to raise money for the cause.

Peters said the team raised a good amount of money to support the cause.

“We were able to raise $165 on the 50/50 raffle tickets through the first half of the game against Geneseo,” Peters said.

Peters and his teammates impressed their head coach with the initiative they took with planning the festivities.

“Sports don’t develop character in these kids, it reveals it,” Friske said. “The fact that we have a group of kids that organized a breast cancer game shows that not only are we a great team, but we’re great people, too.”

Saturday’s match was a dog fight all the way through to the finish.

In the extra 20 minutes after regulation, play became very physical and scrappy as both sides attempted to find the game-winning score.

The chances were there for both sides, starting in the opening minute of the first overtime period when Laker senior midfielder Brendan Beisner sent a deep shot just around the upper left corner of theGeneseo net.

Oswego State missed another promising opportunity in the second overtime period when senior striker Mike Naab was unable to settle a J.J. McLoughlin free kick in front of Geneseo’s goal.

While the Lakers offense fought to find the winning goal, the defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Todd Lawson, kept the Knights of the board.

Lawson, the reigning Oswego State men’s Athlete of the Week, tipped a Geneseo shot over the crossbar and sold his body on another shot to preserve the tie.

The transfer student from the College of St. Rose finished the match with eight saves. Friske was happy with the performance of his net minder.

“I’m happy for him,” Friske said. “He’s helped our team go to another level. He’s a great kid and we couldn’t be any happier.”

In the second half of regulation play, Geneseo came out with more energy and jumped on the hosts early.

Within the first three minutes of the period, the Knights took the lead after a goal was scored off the foot of senior forward Ryan Yurchak.

The visitors, led by junior midfielder Jason Iannone, brought the ball down the right side of their offensive zone.

Iannone quickly hit Yurchak in the heart of the 18-yard box where he sent it home for his fourth goal of the season.

A majority of the following 10 minutes was played in the Knights’ offensive zone as well.

However, at the 29:45 mark of the half the game’s second storyline took center stage and served as a bit of a momentum changer for the Lakers.

Besides being Beisner’s final Breast Cancer Awareness game, last Saturday was also a family reunion for the Oswego State senior as he faced off against his younger brother, Connor, a junior midfielder for Geneseo.

The Lakers head coach understood the magnitude of the gathering for his senior captain.

“You can tell that there’s been an underlying reason for him looking forward to this game,” Friske said. “It’s something that he’s talked about all year, so it must have been a big moment for both of them.”

With just under 30 minutes to play in the half, Beisner received the ball near the top of the Geneseo goalie box when his younger brother took him down, drawing a yellow card.

The penalty appeared to turn the tide as Oswego State started to possess the ball more efficiently.

Beisner and freshman Harrison Rieber worked a solid combination off a McLoughlin feed less than two minutes later, but it was ended when the Knights sophomore keeper, Logan Calvey, beat Beisner to the ball on the goal line.

The Lakers would fail to convert off a McLoughlin kick before finding their equalizer in the 69th minute.

The senior midfielder flicked a pass up the left side of the pitch in the direction of freshman forward Paul Kwoyelo, a recent Oswego State substitute, who was racing against Geneseo’s Calvey to win possession.

Calvey won the foot race, but his ensuing attempt at clearing was blocked by Kwoyelo and landed in front of Peters who finished the play from deep, on the net left open by Calvey.

Friske was pleased with how the play occurred because it lined up with the conversation he had with his young forward just before he entered the game.

“I was talking to Paul right before he went in and told him that he needs to sort of sell his soul to make plays,” Friske said. “He took a big hit to create a 50-50 ball that popped out to Peters to give us an opportunity to tie the game.”

Friske also called the sequence “a movie in itself,” saying he felt Peters was rewarded for all the hard work he put in to make the weekend possible.

The excitement and offense of the second half made up for the lack thereof in the match’s first 45 minutes.

Each keeper was only forced to make two saves a piece in the first half and only one of the chances on either side truly threatened.

Geneseo dominated possession for the game’s first 20 minutes keeping the ball in its offensive zone for much of the time frame.

The Knights put a ball on the left post in the 13th minute, which Lawson had to tip away, but their real chance came in the first six minutes of the half, putting the Lakers’ keeper to the test.

Oswego State failed to clear a Geneseo chance, leaving the ball on Lawson’s doorstep. The Laker goalie had to make the save on the shot which followed, then pick up the rebound off the line to thwart the opportunity.

Lawson’s teammates on offense created chances in the game’s opening minutes. But a number of Oswego State turnovers quickly shifted possession in favor of the Knights.

In the opening five minutes, seniors Ryan Tibbetts and Naab just missed on a scoring opportunity.

The chance would be the Lakers’ only solid opportunity until Beisner had a punt from the top of the 18-yard box tipped just over the crossbar by Calvey.

The shot was Beisner’s only on goal out of a team-leading four on the day.

The first match of the weekend may not have had any goals, but the clean sheet spoke positively of Oswego State’s performance against Brockport, a member of the national rankings just two weeks ago.

The overtime periods on Friday had little action, as the two squads combined for just one shot in the extra 20 minutes. However, when whistles stopped play, lack of action was not an issue.

Fans and players on both sides became vocal with their disapproval of the officiating, but Friske was content with how his squad held themselves.

“We try not to let it affect us play,” Friske said. “I think the kids on the field really weathered the storms, even the bad calls.”

After successfully controlling possession and creating scoring opportunities in the first 19 minutes of the half, Lawson and the Lakers’ backline stood tall in the face of a serious Golden Eagles opportunity.

Brockport first sent in a direct free kick, which found a head in front, forcing Lawson to tip the shot over the bar. The chance earned the Golden Eagles the first of three consecutive corner kicks.

Oswego State was forced to scrap and work together on each set piece to keep its opponent off the scoreboard. Friske said he was excited with what he saw.

“Those are intense situations to be a part of,” Friske said. “I think our goalie along with our entire team did a hell of a job on making sure we kept a clean sheet. A lot of focus and a lot of commitment goes into those moments, and they did great.”

In the minutes following that situation, McLoughlin and junior Jim Manton headed dangerous Brockport chances away from goal, serving as the epitome of the Lakers defensive performance as a whole on Friday.

As fatigue became a factor later in the game, Oswego State continued to push for the game-winner.

With just under 13 minutes to play, an Oswego State corner kick landed in the box, but no one was around on the other end to finish.

About nine minutes later, an Oswego State service found Naab, but he was unable to put the shot in the net, sending it over the crossbar.

In the first half, the Golden Eagles came out with some promise. They were finding sophomore forward Peter DiLorenzo, the SUNYAC’s leading scorer, but the Lakers worked hard to squash any goal-scoring opportunities.

Oswego State came out with a younger lineup in the first half. Friske gave the nod to two freshmen, Josh Yager and Steve Underwood.

“I’m really happy that some of the new kids are finding success because not only are they really good players, they’re great young men as well,” Friske said.

With the new lineup and little offense working, the Lakers used a frustrating counterattack to knock Brockport out of rhythm and hold their opponents scoreless in the opening half.

Oswego State’s season comes to an end on Saturday at Laker Field with the team’s Senior Day.

The Lakers will take on their SUNYAC rival SUNY Cortland (8-6-1, 5-2-1), second in the SUNYAC, on Senior Day as they send off the six members of the Class of 2014.