Cardinals breakout in fourth, pull away from men’s lacrosse

Oswego State allowed a goal in the last five seconds of the third quarter and then five straight to open the fourth as SUNY Plattsburgh knocked off the Lakers, 18-10, at South Athletic Field on Saturday.

“Our guys came out excited for a SUNYAC game. They had a couple days to get their legs underneath them and get some reps in at what we were running. That helped us out a lot at the start of the game,” said head coach Drew Bezek.

The Lakers have not won a conference game since defeating SUNY Oneonta, 15-11, on April 20, 2013. With this latest SUNYAC loss to SUNY Plattsburgh, the conference drought will officially stretch over two full calendar years come Monday.

“This game meant everything, big time rival for us,” said Matt Palmer, senior midfielder. “It’s usually a chippy game and we knew it was a good chance for us to get a first win in the SUNYAC, but we just didn’t execute.”

Oswego State  played a total eight minutes of the game with a man down due to continuous penalties throughout the game. These man down situations resulted in six of SUNY Plattsburgh’s 18 goals.

“The penalties were a big deflator for us with having energy and being able to move on from play to play. They had really long possessions which took our offense out of our flow for sure in the second half,” said Bezek.

During the SUNY Canton game on Wednesday, Bezek attributed the penalty issue to the players being tired from playing a late game the night before against SUNY Potsdam. However, after having two days of rest the issue with penalties was still a very persistent problem stemming from sloppy play.

“One thing with us is we get extremely discouraged after a score, the energy all dies, and we gotta work on that,” said Nick Giampaolo, senior midfielder.

The Lakers opened the game on top as senior midfielder Connor Khammar scored the game’s first goal 1:15 into the game, only to be answered 36 seconds later by the Cardinals’ leading scorer junior Brendan Damm. Damm finished the game with seven goals and three assists.

“Consistency was the key piece, we allowed him to get to his left hand more than we should of, because we knew coming in that he was a lefty,” Bezek said. “If he beat us right handed then he did. But right from the start the first goal he had we just didn’t stay on his left hand and kind of just let him do what he wanted out there.”

Sophomore goalie Wyatt Russo saw plenty of shots fired his way as the Cardinals stacked up 56 (34 on goal) shots throughout the game, compared to the Lakers’ total of 34 (21 on goal). Russo managed to keep the game as close as possible with great play between the pipes, but only managed to make 16 saves.

The first quarter saw Palmer score his first of four goals in the game to improve the score to 3-2 Lakers. The goal gave Oswego State its last lead of the afternoon with 4:27 to play in the opening frame. The Cardinals regained the lead for good with 23 seconds left in the first quarter on a man up goal by Jack Felter. The Lakers managed to keep the game within one goal for the rest of the half as they went into the half trailing, 6-5.

“Coach told us at the half to keep the energy up. They weren’t happy to play us on grass, so we had home field advantage,” Giampaolo said. “Coach emphasized the fact that we can’t let them have the ball because they’re just gonna keep scoring. We had to slow it down, and get goals without turnovers, we were hoping to keep up with them, but it just seemed to fall apart in the fourth quarter.”

The third quarter saw Matt Palmer score his second goal of the game with an assist from Giampaolo with 12 minutes left in the third to draw the score even at six. From there, the Cardinals began to pull away. The game was never tied again.

A late score from sophomore Austin Belz with five second left in the third quarter gave the Cardinals a 10-7 after the third and started the run of six straight goals, which put the game away.

The Lakers received goals from seniors Kyle Witsner and Palmer and freshman Tyler Nason in the final seven minutes, but could not overcome the eight-goal lead built by SUNY Plattsburgh to start the fourth quarter.

Oswego State has two games left on its regular season schedule. The team remains winless in the SUNYAC, but is not statistically eliminated from the playoffs yet. It is two games behind No. 4-seed the College at Brockport with two games remaining.

“I’ve been playing with the rest of the seniors for three years now, it’s kinda been our team,” said Giampaolo, who transferred to Oswego State as a sophomore. “We’ve come together, but not as effectively as we used to in the past. We’re just trying to end the season, and our careers on a good note. Hopefully we can get that SUNYAC win.”

The Lakers (6-6, 0-4 SUNYAC) will travel to SUNY Cortland (10-4, 4-0 SUNYAC) on Wednesday at 4 p.m. as they continue conference play. They have one final home game next Saturday against SUNY Geneseo.