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Men's soccer rebounds to clinch playoff spot

by Bart Snyder - Contributing Writer
Tue, Oct 29th 2019 09:00 pm
Junior Tyler Godin goes after a 50/50 ball with a defender from Houghton College on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Brockport lost to Houghton 1-0 but bounced back against SUNY Geneseo.
Junior Tyler Godin goes after a 50/50 ball with a defender from Houghton College on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Brockport lost to Houghton 1-0 but bounced back against SUNY Geneseo.

The College at Brockport men’s soccer team played its biggest game of the season on Saturday, Oct. 26. The Golden Eagles were faced with a win-or-go-home situation in their regular season finale against SUNY Geneseo. A win would secure a spot in the playoffs, while a loss meant the end of the season.

Brockport started the 2019 campaign with a very strong non-conference showing, going 5—2—1 in its first eight games. The start of SUNYAC play came as a rude awakening for the defending conference champions. After winning three straight SUNYAC tournament games to end the season last year, Brockport stumbled out of the gate, dropping four of its first five conference games during the current campaign. Brockport managed to rebound in the second half of the conference schedule by going 2—0—1 in its three conference games before playing Geneseo. One of the Golden Eagles’ wins was a 3-2 road victory in double overtime over SUNY Oneonta, the top team in the SUNYAC and at the time the #6 team in the country.

Brockport used its late-season momentum to its advantage early in the game against Geneseo. Just over nine minutes into the game, sophomore forward Matthew Stefaniw found the back of the net and gave Brockport an early 1-0 advantage. This lead held up until just before halftime, when Geneseo evened up the score at one. The Golden Eagles outshot Geneseo 10-4 in what was a dominant showing in the second half. This included the eventual game-winning goal by junior left back Nolan Byrnes with less than 15 minutes left in the game. Byrnes’ goal came on a free kick from 20 yards out.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what just happened,” Byrnes said. “I was just extremely proud of the team. The start of the season did not go exactly how we wanted and we dug ourselves into a deep hole. The way we were able to come together and win the last three games of the season to send us to the playoffs is amazing.”

The win locked Brockport into the sixth and final spot in the SUNYAC playoffs. Joining Brockport in the tournament will be SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, Buffalo State, Plattsburgh State and SUNY Oneonta. The first matchup for the Golden Eagles in its quest to repeat as tournament champions will be Buffalo State, the #3 seed. The recent run of success for Brockport has it feeling confident and prepared for the playoffs.

“I feel ready and hungry and our team is ready and hungry,” Byrnes said. “This team is so much better than the score lines show and I am excited to show the SUNYAC conference who we are.”

Brockport played Buffalo State earlier in the season, however it was unable to win the game, falling 2-0. Despite this, the Golden Eagles are still confident they can handle the Bengals in the playoffs.

“We need to work really hard this upcoming week,” Stefaniw said. “I believe in the second half against Geneseo we really pressed them deep into their own half. We haven’t really done that this season until today. I think if we work on that this week, we’ll have a real good chance next Saturday.”

Brockport finished the regular season with a 9—7—2 overall record and a conference record of 4—4—1. The team will have a full week of preparation before it faces Buffalo State in the quarterfinals of the SUNYAC Tournament. Brockport travels to Buffalo for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday Nov. 2. The winner will advance to face Plattsburgh, the #2 seed, on the road on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in the semifinals.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

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