Men’s Soccer Wins SUNYAC Championship
The SUNY Oneonta men’s soccer team is headed back to the NCAA Division III tournament after winning its second straight SUNYAC championship today against Plattsburgh, 2-1. Oneonta (13-5-1) scored two late second half goals and then held off a late attack by Plattsburgh to secure its victory.
“We showed tremendous character to win in a difficult environment,” said head coach Iain Byrne. “The game could have gone either way, but our class up front got us over the line with two great goals.”
Oneonta was looking to avenge an overtime loss to Plattsburgh back in October. The two teams were playing each other for the fourth straight time in the SUNYAC tournament, but the first time in the conference championship game. In the previous three meetings, the two teams were even with a win, a loss and a tie. Last year, Oneonta defeated Plattsburgh in the semifinals en route to winning the title. This year, the Red Dragons defeated the Cardinals to win the title.
The two teams battled each other for 78 minutes in a scoreless game before Oneonta finally got on the scoreboard in the 79th minute. The leading scorer, junior Luke Halberg of Norwich, took a pass from freshman Dylan Williams of Monroe on a counter attack. Halberg took the pass into the right side of the box and angled in toward the goal before putting a low shot into the far left corner of the goal for the 1-0 lead.
With Plattsburgh pressing, Oneonta got another break on a counter attack and scored its second goal. Freshman Jake Sutherland of Syracuse, who scored the game-winner yesterday, took the ball down the left flank and broke in towards the goal where he was able to slide a shot by the Plattsburgh keeper.
The Cardinals made the match interesting when they scored less than 30 seconds later on a header by Steve Zacharczyk that deflected off the cross bar and straight down just over the goal line.
Plattsburgh (17-3-1) had one more rush, which produced a weak attempt that was handled by Oneonta keeper Daniel DeBottis of Cicero. DeBottis won his seventh game of the season today after making six saves in goal.
Senior Dan Scott of Hyde Park, who has anchored the Oneonta defense all season, was selected as the tournament MVP. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Sutherland, classmate Colin Volpe of Commack and sophomore Mitchell Cain of Marcy.
Oneonta, which has only been eligible for the NCAA Division III tournament since 2008, is looking to return to San Antonio, the site for this year’s national championship weekend. First- and second-round games will take place next weekend on campus sites around the country. This year’s field of 64 teams will be announced on Monday at 1 p.m.
The direct link to the selection show is http://www.ncaa.com/live/player?vid=2012/562&date=2012/11/05. The men’s Division III show will be broadcast at 1pm EST