Soccer slips in straight OT losses


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Freshman Bass Sarr was held out of Saturday’s game against Plattsburgh as he has accrued four yellow cards this season, one more would result in a one-game suspension.

Andrew David Kuczkowski, Staff Writer

Double overtime in two consecutive games proved to be too much for the Buffalo State men’s soccer team as they fell to sixth place in the SUNYAC and will go into their final regular season slate of games fighting for a playoff spot.

The Bengals lost both their away games this past weekend to SUNY Potsdam (9-5-1 overall, 3-3-1 SUNYAC) by a score of 2-1 and to No. 12 SUNY Plattsburgh (12-1-3 overall, 4-0-3 SUNYAC) by a score of 1-0. Both games went into double overtime, with Potsdam winning in the 107th minute and Plattsburgh finishing the game with only 38 seconds remaining.

“[Versus] Potsdam, we didn’t have our best performance,” head coach Mark Howlett said, “but I think we still have enough chances to win the game, and they didn’t really have any clear-cut chances. Ultimately, we didn’t take our chances and we didn’t win the game when we should have.”

During the game against Potsdam, junior captain Luke Pavone scored the lone goal for the Bengals in the 75th minute on a penalty kick. Freshman Bass Sarr also accrued his fourth yellow card, which puts him on the brink of being suspended one game if he is charged with another. Howlett decided to sit Sarr out versus Plattsburgh.

“Both Pavone and Sarr didn’t play Saturday [versus Plattsburgh],” Howlett said. “Pavone was nursing an injury and Bass is on four yellow cards. So, realistically we wanted to save him for this weekend. Without our two top offensive players, we played the 12th ranked team in the country closely, if not outplaying them.”

Buffalo State played neck-and-neck with the 12th-ranked team in Div. III during regulation. Nearly every stat is reflected on both sides, with the shot margin being 10-8 with the advantage going to the Cardinals, but shots on net being tied 3-3.

“I think we played very well against Plattsburgh,” Howlett said, “especially in the first 45 minutes. We probably played the best we’ve played all year against Plattsburgh, who is No. 1 in the region and No. 12 in the country.

“The second half was a little more even. It was back-and-forth, but really no one had any clear-cut chances until late in the game. I think in the double overtimes, we were really trying to get a point at that stage.”

Both overtime and double overtime seemed to go the Cardinals’ way. They dominated the shot chart as they piled up nine shots, but only landed three on net. But Plattsburgh only needed one to cross the crease and it did off a corner kick with less than a minute left to play.

“It was a tough weekend,” junior captain Daniel Aguilar said. “We didn’t expect it to be this way, but we did what we could.”

Buffalo State had a steep hill to climb against Plattsburgh without Pavone or Sarr in the lineup. The duo has racked up 18 goals out of the 25 made by the team this year, accounting for 72 percent of the team’s scoring.

Currently, Buffalo State sits at the sixth spot in the SUNYAC and only the top six teams make the playoffs. The Bengals will finish out the season at home against New Paltz (10-6 overall, 3-4 SUNYAC) Friday, Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. and Oneonta (11-3-1 overall, 6-1 SUNYAC) Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.

“They are heartbreaking losses,” junior goaltender William Banahene said. “Both losses came in double-overtime. One in the last two minutes and the other one was in the last 38 seconds. So, yeah, they were tough losses, but there are positives you can look at in every game. I think we can use that to go into New Paltz next week.”

New Paltz is the seventh seed and are looking to take Buffalo State’s spot for SUNYAC playoffs, while Oneonta sits at first place in the SUNYAC. The upcoming games have major playoff implications, but Howlett says they won’t treat them any different.

“What is nice is that we treated every next game as the biggest game of the year,” Howlett said. “It really is no different in that respect. Obviously, it is a playoff game for us. If we win on Friday, then you got the possibility to host a playoff game, which would be the first time in the history of the program. The great thing is that we have our own destiny in our own hands. If we win one more game then we’re in the tournament. That was our goal the entire time.”

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