The Oswego State Men’s Soccer team lost 3-0 Saturday to the William Paterson University Pioneers in the Championship game of the Oswego State Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The Lakers went into Saturday looking to win the tournament for the first time since 2011, but came up short.
Coming off a 3-1 win against SUNY Canton in their first game of the tournament on Friday, the Lakers could not replicate that performance against the Pioneers.
Despite a brilliant performance from senior goalkeeper Todd Lawson, a three-goal effort from junior Musa Sackoon of the Pioneers put the Lakers in a deficit they could not overcome. Fellow junior midfielder Frank Turner assisted Sackoon on every goal on Sackoon’s way to a hat trick.
The Lakers started off the game playing evenly with the opposition, but soon the Pioneers began to impose their offense on a shaky Lakers defense. The Lakers conceded in the opening 15 minutes and it could have been more if not for the effort of Lawson, who punched out a cross and came out to catch another to prevent a scoring chance.
It would not last, however, as Tucker found Sackoon for the first goal of the game, setting him up with a one on one chance with Lawson. The combination of Sackoon and Tucker was a constant pair of thorns in the side of the Lakers, who had no answer for them as their speed proved to be a problem for the Laker defenders. Tucker found Sackoon again that left him in another one on one with Lawson. He slotted it in the back of the net for his second goal as well as for the Pioneers as they doubled their lead.
Despite the rough home stand to start their season, Coach Bob Friske sees potential in his squad. Despite losing seven members from last seasons’ team due to graduation, there is still valuable experience throughout the team in players such as Lawson and junior Mitch Brickman, who were key pieces to the Lakers’ run to the SUNYAC playoffs last season.
“We’ve got a small group and a lot of guys are getting some minutes, hopefully this helps us out throughout the year,” Friske said. “A lot of these guys have only been playing together for a couple of weeks.
Friske knows that the team put itself in a bad spot to start, but saw improvements in the second half.
“We started off a little shaky and fell behind, and that was difficult to come back from,” Friske said. “The second half was a lot better but the damage had already been done.”
The Lakers weren’t able to find any momentum against the pace of the Pioneers who consistently frustrated them. They could not find any clear chances on goal, having three shots on goal, but nothing threatened Pioneer goalkeeper Nico Matirano.
The frustration showed not only in their play but also in their actions. With less than 20 minutes left in the first half things began to get tense as a set of quarrels between the two sides led to even more frustration for the home side.
The Pioneers counter attack was a threat to the Lakers all throughout the first half, as the speed of players Tucker and Sackoon continuously proved to be too difficult for the Lakers defenders to handle.
The Lakers conceded again with just less than ten minutes left as they left Sackoon one on one against Lawson again. Sackoon buried his chance for the third time in the opening half as he slotted the ball to the lower left corner.
Despite some rare flashes of threatening the Pioneer goal, the Lakers were inferior side in the first half, only having one shot which was a simple save for Pioneer goalkeeper Matirano, compared to the Pioneer’s who had seven shots on Lawson’s goal, ten in total.
“We have to play as one unit, not just 11 guys trying to do everything out there,” Brickman said.
The second half began in a manner much similar to the first half with the Pioneers attacking the Lakers’ goal. The Lakers’ effort never wavered however, but they couldn’t muster any concrete threat, as they never troubled Matirano. The Lakers efforts went unrewarded in the second half.
Sophomore Connor Lunduski, who broke out as one of the best players for the Lakers last season as a freshman, attempted to create something as he was making runs down the left wing for the Lakers.
Sackoon, who was named MVP of the tournament for his five-goal haul over his two games, came close to scoring his fourth of the championship game, but it hit the top crossbar. Despite no goal, it signaled the Lakers had lost any momentum they had after their earlier second half efforts, and it signaled that the game was essentially over.
The Pioneers regained their dominant form that they had in the first half and began to dominate the Lakers in the latter half in what turned into the norm on the day.
The Pioneers proceeded to grind down the game, patiently waiting on the ball and taking a rare chance when they could. They were comfortable with their 3-0 lead. They did have a few chances to add to their fourth, however, and it took spectacular efforts from Lawson and some luck the crossbar on Sackoon’s effort to keep it at four.
Lawson had a spectacular game for the Lakers. Although he conceded three, he prevented the game from turning into a slaughter as he consistently defended his goal with persistence.
“We’ve got to work towards our chances at getting to goal, and take our chances,” Lawson said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys coming in, we’re putting in a lot of effort to come together as a team.”
The Lakers will travel on the road to take on the Hamilton College Continentals of the NESC Conference on Tuesday, September. 8. It will be the Continentals first game of their season. The Lakers will return home to take on Utica College on Saturday, September 12.