Buffalo State blanks New Paltz, advances to semis


Dave DeLuca/The Record file photo

Sophomore forward August Finn has registered four goals and three assists this season.

Ryan Mullen, Reporter

Adversity can turn a talented team into a mediocre one. Adversity separates the men from the boys, the alphas from the betas.

The Buffalo State men’s soccer team (11-5-1) has overcome adversity this season. It started day one. From losing their best player to having to find someone to step up, the Bengals have faced it all. All the ups and downs, smiles and frowns to overtime winners to game losing thrillers that a typical SUNYAC schedule will put you through. And yet they are still one of four teams still left standing.

Buffalo State advanced to the SUNYAC semifinals on Saturday with a 2-0 quarterfinal win over New Paltz (8-3-7). In an extremely competitive game, the first half was very physical and dominant, for the most, part by New Paltz. The Bengals were conservative in nature and could only manage one shot for the first half.

New Paltz was clearly the better team in the first half with almost all the scoring chances in the first half. They led in shot advantage 5-1, forcing Buffalo State’s goaltender, William Banahene to make two quality saves. The Eagles were dangerous on set pieces and were aggressive with through balls. They were a couple different offside calls away from several great opportunities to score. They flat out got out worked and it didn’t look good going into halftime.

“I challenged them at halftime, I challenged them to outwork New Paltz. New Paltz had a tremendous season under first-year head coach Kyle Clancy, and they’ve had that success through their work ethic,” Buffalo State head coach Mark Howlett said. “I feel like we’ve built ourselves on that as well. The guys never want to be challenged that were not out working our opponent because we never want to lose a game due to that. That was the challenge.”

The Bengals responded to not only their coach’s message, but to New Paltz as well. Buffalo State came out as the aggressors in the second half, and it really paid dividends. If Howlett asked for a better work ethic from a player, he must have said it to forward Brandon Galanti. Galanti was a force to be reckoned with. His hustle and work ethic could not be outmatched, and was the reason why Buffalo State won this game.

Buffalo State had a great look deep in New Paltz’s territory. Tristan Meyers was brilliant keeping the ball in favor of the Bengals and took a shot that drifted to the left of the goalkeeper. At that moment, everyone on the field sort of stood still, except Brandon Galanti.

Galanti rushed to the left of the goalkeeper, beating him to ball and in the process being fouled that led to a penalty kick. Bass Sarr would bury the chance to the Buffalo State the lead, but without Galanti’s hard work, who knows how the game would’ve turned out.

It didn’t end there. Usually, when a team has a lead in a playoff game, they’ll go into a shell to try to get the win. But Buffalo State didn’t play passively to end the game against New Paltz. Rather, they stayed aggressive for the rest of the game.

It started with a push down the field toward the Eagles’ end. The ball was rolling toward New Paltz goaltender John Guzzo with Galanti in pursuit. The Eagles defender didn’t notice how hard Galanti was running, or flat out didn’t see him. He nonchalantly headed it to Guzzo, allowing the Bengals forward a chance at the ball.

Galanti shrugged off a defender and put it through the legs of the goaltender to seal the win for Buffalo State with 12 minutes left in the game.

“Coming in as a sub, you just want to come in and change the game. When it’s 0-0, you just do whatever you can to get your team going, and I think I helped out with that,” Galanti said. “I saw it was a tough ball for the defender so I thought maybe he’s going to try to pass it back and he did. I just picked it off and got it past the goalie.”

With a great victory on Saturday, the Bengals have a short turnaround with the SUNYAC semifinal game against one-seed Cortland on Wednesday at 1 p.m. The Bengals lost to Cortland earlier in the season in a heartbreaker. The Red Dragons scored in the 87th minute in regulation to beat the Bengals.

The No. 8 Cortland Red Dragons will be a tall order for Buffalo State. The Bengals came close, but that isn’t stopping them from looking to advance to the SUNYAC finals with a win over Cortland.

“For me, we have to do the same things. We just need a little bit of luck. Last time, they got a little bit of luck,” Howlett said. “We need to do exactly the same.  [I’m] confident, know we can get the job done and get excited about playing in the semifinals.”

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