Men’s soccer set to host Homecoming Weekend

Oswego State Lakers men’s soccer (6-6-1/1-5-0) kickoff Homecoming Weekend with Friday’s match against the College at Brockport (7-3-3/2-1-2).

The Lakers are desperately seeking a homecoming weekend sweep over the College at Brockport and SUNY Geneseo. They currently rank eighth out of ninth place in the SUNYAC standings. The Lakers are a point out of sixth place, the last qualifying spot for the SUNYAC Playoffs.

“We’ve been playing really good teams,” head coach Dan Kane said. “I believe we’ve gotten better, but we had two bad weekends and the competition has stepped up, but right now we’re searching for that confidence to help us make a final push.”

The Lakers have suffered five consecutive matches in a row, all against SUNYAC teams. Last weekend, they went on the road and suffered two close defeats against Buffalo State and SUNY Fredonia. The Lakers have been outscored 13-6 during their five-match losing streak.

“We have to communicate better. We’re going to play deeper to allow ourselves to have that space in behind their backline,” Kane said. “We had success playing the counter earlier in the season, so we think that gives us our best chance to win,” Kane said.

The Lakers were able to string together 27 goals in their first five matches, but have failed to match that pace in their recent fixtures. Offensively, they have slowed down even though they have the conference leader in points, Hassan Musa.

“Offensively, we have not been able to find our flow, but I think that changes on Friday,” Musa said.

The College at Brockport has been carried this year by a very strong defense, one  that Kane refers to as “a defense that does not make mistakes.” The Golden Eagles have allowed only two goals in their previous three matches.

Kane has been emphasizing in recent practices that the Lakers’ forwards must put pressure on the opponent’s backline if they want to pull together victories. The plan heading into Friday is to play the counter-attack. That starts with the backline dropping back, midfielders marking the middle, wingers pressuring the fullbacks and strikers allowing no easy passes.

“We’ve been training really hard,” Kane said. “These guys have a ton of energy and we had a bad couple weekends, so we are definitely looking to perform at our best this weekend.”

Many of the opponents’ goals in recent games have come off mistakes from the Lakers. Bad passes from the backline and mistakes in the middle of the field seem to be the problem for the Lakers.

“We’ve got to be better and we will be better,” Tim Ritch said. “That starts with myself and all the guys that play the majority of the game.”

Ritch is the captain for the Lakers, and he does not like to lose. The Lakers have failed to reach the SUNYAC playoffs since 2014, the season before Ritch transferred in. Ritch is the vocal leader on and off the pitch for this team and believes his team is not done yet.

“We can’t look back. We always got to look forward but never too far ahead,” Ritch said. “Just go out there, play the best we can and hopefully get the results we want.”

The Lakers have been in a goalkeeping battle throughout the season between freshman Brian Terra and last year’s starter, Evan Bogucki.

“We haven’t totally made the decision yet,” Kane said. “We feel confident in both of them, and they both did really well in training earlier, but that’s a decision we’ll make before game time,” Kane said.

Terra has allowed 17 goals through 10 matches of play and has recorded a total of two clean sheets. Bogucki has played four total matches and has allowed four goals through that span. The battle will continue, but as of right now, it looks like Terra will be the goalie judging off recent matches.

The Oswego State Lakers play the College at Brockport at Laker Turf Stadium on Friday at 3 p.m., then SUNY Geneseo Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Laker Turf Stadium.

“We have class all over the field,” Kane said. “If we’re combining and working hard off the ball, we can break down any team that stands in our way.”

Photo: Cole Parzych | The Oswegonian