Buffalo State splits SUNYAC tilts, moves to third in conference


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Sophomore midfielder Sammy Wasson has four assists for the 9-3-2 Bengals.

Andrew David Kuczkowski, Staff Writer

Buffalo State men’s soccer team split two home games versus SUNYAC opponents this past weekend and sit at 9-3-2 (3-1-1 SUNYAC), third in the conference, as the SUNYAC playoffs approach.

Buffalo State fell to Cortland (8-3-2 overall, 3-2-1 SUNYAC), 2-0 on Friday before defeating Oswego (4-6-1 overall, 1-4 SUNYAC) this past Saturday, 2-1.

The Bengals started their weekend off against the Red Dragons. In a windy bout, Cortland got on the scoreboard first in the 20th minute, hitting the bottom corner pocket, skidding just out of the reach of the diving junior goaltender, William Banahene.

As time was running down and the Bengals became more desperate, Nick Tata of Cortland dribbled by the over-aggressive Bengal defenders and scored on a one-versus-one in the 85th minute. That would end the scoring at 2-0 and give the Bengals their first SUNYAC loss of the season.

“We weren’t our best today,” head coach Mark Howlett said. “I don’t know if it was a little bit of us, or a little bit of them, but it’s going to happen. We’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

The Bengals did just that.

Saturday’s game had more open-field play and longer passes due in large part to the lack of wind, but it wasn’t the cleanest contest. Players were falling down left and right as sloppy tackles and aggressive play fed into the emotional fans and players.

The first opportunity for the Bengals came on a free kick by sophomore Sammy Wasson that was just barely deflected by the goalie, who made a one-handed save, punching the ball over the crossbar and out of play.

The Bengals opened up the scoring with a hard kick in the 28th minute by junior captain Luke Pavone, his ninth of the season, with the assist coming from August Finn.

The Bengals’ lead would hold up until the second half, where Banahene made a save, a low shot rocketing into his hands. He couldn’t control it and left a juicy rebound that Oswego freshman Bernard Osei capitalized on, tying the game at one.

Oswego was given a yellow card in the last 12 minutes of play and the Bengals were given a free kick. The free kick was set up by Pavone just outside the box. Pavone led freshman Bass Sarr to the net, but Sarr was tripped up just outside the goalie box.

A penalty kick was awarded to Buffalo State. Fans roared, both the home crowd cheering for excitement and Oswego State fans showing their disapproval.

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Pavone was given a game-winning opportunity and took advantage. The goal was his tenth of the season and gave Buffalo State a 2-1 lead that finished off the Lakers.

“Great teams win these games,” Howlett said. “In the record and in the stats, [Oswego State is] not doing well but they are still a pushing team and they still picked up results. I am just glad we got out of here with a win.”

Oswego State received every yellow card awarded during the game, a total of five.

“Sometimes you have to win ugly,” Pavone said. “We’re just happy to be back in second place.”

Currently, Buffalo state is tied for third in the SUNYAC with Oneonta.

With only two more weeks left in the regular season, Buffalo State will have their last two away games against Potsdam on Friday Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. and Plattsburgh on Saturday Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. The Bengals are a near shoe-in for the SUNYAC playoffs, but they are not there just yet.

“Realistically now, we are one win away from the playoffs,” Howlett said. “In the SUNYAC this year, that’s what it’s all about. There are going to be some very, very good teams that miss out. That’s our goal right now, and we will reevaluate once we get there.”

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