The Oswego State men’s soccer team made the SUNYAC playoffs for the first time in four years this season, and is heading to the offseason with their heads held high.
The Lakers started off the season with a win, but then struggled throughout the early part of the season until they were able to right the ship in order to secure the playoff berth.
“We started off real slow, we hit a point in the season where we went on a goalless drought, but we really picked it up as a team,” said sophomore Mitch Brickman. “We found it in ourselves once the conference games started, and we made the playoffs.”
The team had not made the playoffs since 2009, and the team was happy to be able to change the culture of the team if only a little.
“It’s a real good feeling to know that you broke a barrier, knowing you did something good for both the program and the school,” Brickman said.
Perhaps the most important game, and the most crucial to the Lakers turnaround was the match-up at home against SUNY Potsdam on alumni weekend. Brickman agrees and believes that was when the season changed.
“I’d say the Potsdam game, getting our first SUNYAC win in the conference. Connor scored an unbelievable goal that kind of sparked us to achieve what we did,” Brickman said.
The person who scored that critical goal, Connor Lunduski, was a key element in the Lakers’ run to the playoffs. The freshman made an immediate impact on the team, scoring three goals and providing an assist on the campaign. But, aside from statistics, his presence helped give the team the spark they needed to recover its season. He believes his future with the team is bright.
“Coming into the season, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Lunduski said. “But as time went on, I knew I love it here. The season started slow, but then we went on a drought. But once SUNYAC came along we knew we had to pick it up.”
He sees the playoffs as a great achievement for the squad, as they won critical games against Buffalo State and SUNY Geneseo at a crucial point in the season. These wins helped set the Lakers up for the playoff push they made.
“Making it to the playoffs was a huge success after the drought we had,” Lunduski said.
Despite the rough start to the year, junior goalkeeper Todd Lawson agrees with the comments of his teammates about the rough start to the season but also thought it was not the most important thing.
“It’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish,” Lawson said.
He also thinks the team rose above what was expected of it at the start of the season, especially after last season’s campaign, when the Lakers did not win a single game. To go from there to an unexpected, by many, playoff appearance really helped the team. The match against the College at Brockport can be seen as the start of something bigger.
“We came out with a bang against Brockport. Sure, we didn’t get the result we were looking for, but we brought it to OT. No one really expected us to get that far,” Lawson said.
Despite being the goalkeeper, he says he felt the scoring drought the team was suffering.
“It’s always difficult when we’re not scoring, but we stuck it out together. There is always a burning desire to get a goal. Well, in my case, it’s to stop them,” Lawson said.
He thinks the season was a good one and wants it to end on a positive note and is glad with his teammates.
“We went out very well, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to spend my junior year with,” Lawson said.
Head coach Bob Friske believes the talent is there for this young team and enjoys the fact the squad has experienced a bit of success. He also sees the growth of the character and the togetherness the team has.
“It was a great season on many levels. The direction of the program has success written all around it, and it was nice to see them achieve that playoff appearance,” Friske said. “They definitely improved from early September to late October, that could be seen in regards to wins and also the team really became tight and had great chemistry toward the end of the year.”
Friske believes the team stands out as what it is, a team, and he will continue to see it that way no matter what.
“Not one person, to me, exceeded anybody else,” Friske said. “I felt that they were a very good group of focused, talented players. That made our team be successful and not any one individual.”
With the season over, Friske is looking toward the future of the team and program, as a whole. He hopes for bigger things for the Lakers in the not so far future.
“Continued focus on becoming a great program, they’ve experienced success, but our goal isn’t to just make the tournament, we want to win it, that’s where the focus is,” Friske said.