Dave DeLuca/The Record
The Buffalo State men’s soccer season came to an end with a 2-0 loss to Cortland in the SUNYAC quarterfinals this past Saturday.
Halloween was bitter for the Bengals, as only 4 of 12 shots they got off were on net. Just one found the back of it.
The first goal of the game came in the 34th minute of play by Cortland’s senior midfielder Robby Reiser. On a toss in, the first group aimed to head the ball in but all missed. Reiser had an open field to get a kick off and took advantage.
“It was a frustrating game,” junior midfielder Luke Pavone said. “We had them pinned in their own half, but we couldn’t score on the opportunities we had. It hurt, but all we could do now is look to next year.”
Buffalo State’s best opportunity came on of a loose rebound. In the 57th minute, the ball was kicked into Cortland’s box. The first shot was saved, then freshman midfielder Bass Sarr followed his shot with his back to the net. He did the best he could to get a shot off and attempted a bicycle kick. The shot had solid contact, but went straight to the chest of the goaltender who was less than 10 feet away.
“It was probably a mirror image of the previous time we faced them,” junior goaltender William Banahene said. “We pushed our guys forward and they just got a breakaway and took their opportunity.”
The breakaway came late in the game with less than one minute to go. The Bengals had possession initially, but lost the ball due to a controversial tackle that enraged Buffalo State’s bench and closed the door on their chances of a comeback. Cortland’s junior forward Tyler Kirschner topped off the scoring with a breakaway goal against Banahene.
“There was a clear foul, for us,” head coach Mark Howlett said. “Like, five yards inside their half, which creates an opportunity for us to get the ball into the box and get one more chance.”
Emotions were high after the goal as Sarr received a red card for disputing the missed call and Cortland’s bench was given a yellow card. The officials ruled with a heavy hand as eight cards were distributed throughout the match, five going against the Bengals.
“It’s unfortunate, especially with the importance of this game, but the officiating of the game wasn’t good enough,” Howlett said. “It seemed like we were definitely away from home.”
The SUNYAC playoffs are over for Buffalo State, but the achievements made this year are nothing to overlook.
“Our goal as a team this year was to make the playoffs,” Pavone said. “We are obviously happy to be there and at the same time, losing in the playoffs isn’t easy because then you’re done for the season and all your hard work is over ‘til the next year.”
Both junior goaltender Robby Kuhnle, who was the backup but did start some games this season, and senior defender Barry Hunt, whose season was cut short due to injury, will not be on the team next year. The entire Bengals’ starting cast should be on the team next season with new additions.
“Next year will be very exciting,” Howlett said. “The guys have already put a plan and expectations in place to make sure that everybody is bigger, stronger and faster next year. If we could add five or six pieces to the puzzle to make sure we have the depth needed to go a long way, then I think we’ll be in very good shape.”
The semifinals for the SUNYAC playoffs are Plattsburgh at Oneonta and Cortland at Brockport. Both games will be on Nov. 4 and will be at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.
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