Lakers close book on 2013 season

Oswego State senior captain Mike Naab looks to control the ball during Saturday’s game against SUNY Cortland. The game was Naab’s final one for the Lakers.  (Perry Kennedy | The Oswegonian)
Oswego State senior captain Mike Naab looks to control the ball during Saturday’s game against SUNY Cortland. The game was Naab’s final one for the Lakers. (Perry Kennedy | The Oswegonian)

The Oswego State men’s soccer team (0-10-5, 0-5-4 SUNYAC) capped off the 2013 season last Saturday with a Senior Day defeat at home against SUNY Cortland (10-6-1, 6-2-1 SUNYAC), 5-0.

The Lakers had a pregame ceremony, during which the senior players, accompanied by their families, were recognized in front of the home crowd at Laker Field. The six members of the Class of 2014 are Mike Naab, Brendan Beisner, Eddie Silvestro, Ryan Tibbetts, J.J. McLoughlin and Brandyn Peters.

McLoughlin and Tibbetts both recognized how time has passed over their four years at Oswego State.

“Most of the seniors have played here for four years and every year you go through the seniors and they say, ‘It goes by fast,’ but you don’t really realize it until you’re actually a senior,” Tibbetts said of his time in Oswego coming to an end.

“It’s crazy. You never think it’s going to hit you until the Senior Day comes, it comes fast.”

“It’s very surreal,” McLoughlin added. “Every year it happens and you never expect it to be you, you never think your time’s going to come and when it does it’s a weird feeling.”

Once the festivities were over, the Lakers and the Red Dragons went to work on the field, with the Cortland playing to a 2-0 advantage at the half.

In the second half of the contest, Cortland stayed aggressive on offense and managed to push across three goals to add to its lead.

The Red Dragons opened the half quickly and worked toward some promising scoring chances.

At 47:40, Cortland sent in a corner, which caught a head in front. Oswego State’s Zack Saccocio stepped up to make the save after kicking the shot off the goalie line.

Just under two minutes later, the Red Dragons were back at it, as a falling Chris Barbosa sent a shot over the crossbar.

However, Barbosa got his redemption minutes later, when the senior got on the end of a Joe Buffolino pass in the center of the box. Barbosa settled the ball and buried it for his first goal of the year, giving Cortland a 3-0 lead.

Before the clock hit the half-hour mark, Cortland found its fourth score of the match. Freshman Daniel Friend sent home a shot from the right side of the box.

After Friend’s goal, it appeared the Red Dragons added their fifth and final goal off the foot of junior Thomas Nocito.

In the 59th minute, Nocito took a pass from senior Bryan Merlos and ran toward the goal. He chipped the ball over Lakers’ goalkeeper Todd Lawson for the score, giving his team a 5-0 lead. The assist gave Merlos sole possession of the team-leader in points with 16.

Oswego State head coach Robert Friske took his seniors off the field for the last time to a standing ovation at the 12:15 mark.

Beisner passed off his captain’s band to junior Jim Manton, signaling a new era of Oswego State soccer. Beisner and Manton are best friends and are from the same high school in West Islip, N.Y.

“Jim’s been a buddy of mine. We went to the same high school and he’s a hell of a player,” Beisner said. “He’s one of my best friends and he deserves it. He’s worked hard and there’s no one else out there I’d rather give the band to.”

The Red Dragons got off to a quick start in the first half, jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

Cortland notched its first goal of the afternoon in the 12th minute, when Merlos found the net.

Manton did well to thwart the Red Dragons’ first attack on goal, but out of bounds for a Cortland corner kick.

The corner by junior Chris McBride came in short, but after bouncing around, the ball found its way to Merlos, who put a bullet past Lawson for what would be the game-winner.

The Red Dragons added another goal after a controversial yellow card was called on Lawson.

The net-minder raced out to cut off a run by McBride and was carded for the ensuing collision in the box, setting up a penalty shot attempt for the Red Dragons.

With three minutes to play, sophomore Robby Reiser sent the chance on frame and Lawson took it off his hands. He was not able to keep it out, however, as it rolled out of his reach and crossed the line to give Cortland a 2-0 lead.

The defeat marks the end of the Lakers’ 2013 season and the end of the careers of the six seniors, but Friske does not think the numbers tell the whole story.

“The mark of a good team isn’t necessarily its record, but the type of people that were on it and I think this might be one of our best teams ever,” Friske said.