It took four overtimes, but the women were able to pull out a victory against division rival Buffalo State on Saturday, April 21 by the score of 12-11.
Senior attacker Emily Ward, senior midfielder Maggie Benham and sophomore Maggie Morris each scored three goals, with Ward also picking up an assist. Junior midfielder Shauna Leonard had two goals and an assist, and junior midfielder Colleen Byrne added a goal. Buffalo State is a tough team and have an impressive record overall, but fall to 0-3 in the division. Benham scored the winning goal in the fourth overtime. It was a great effort, considering how long the game had been.
This win was sweet on multiple levels. Most of all, the Knights were able to deliver a crushing blow to Buffalo State's chances of making the SUNYAC tournament. "Any time you can knock down another team while helping yourself, it feels that much better," said coach Carly Peters Ritchlin. Winning close games has been a main focus in practice, with the team working on high pressure situations and creating game-like conditions to help prepare for the future. "Winning close games really helps mentally and physically. Being able to pull out games like this mean a lot," Ritchlin added.
The team played another close game, winning 8-7 against St. Lawrence on Sunday, April 22. This match went to overtime, another test for the Knights. "Back-to-back overtime games are tough on any team, especially considering the conditions we were playing in," said Ritchlin about the fatigue from these demanding contests. "We work hard on training and conditioning just for these types of games. We also have some subs to keep out legs fresh, especially in the midfield," she added.
Leonard, Morris and Benham took care of the scoring for the Knights, with Leonard and Morris netting three goals each and Benham throwing in two. Benham and Leonard also got an assist each, with senior midfielder Megan Hilts also picking up a helper. The game was closely-matched, and Geneseo was able to hold their composure and work hard for the win. "We didn't play our best against Buffalo State, and I think it motivated us to play tough against St. Lawrence. We attacked and worked around the ball well, and our defense was patient and solid" said Ritchlin. The women gutted out another tough win, and looked to continue their success.
The Knights picked up yet another overtime win by disposing of Oneonta 15-14 on Tuesday, April 24. Benham continued her incredible play, scoring six points, with five goals and an assist. She now has 37 goals on the season, adding 16 assists for a total of 53 points. Ward also scored five goals, Morris added two goals, and Leonard picked up two more assists. Sophomore attacker Laura Kitts had five points, scoring three goals and two assists. The women outscored their opponents 2-1 in the first overtime, and this was all they needed. The team now sits at 10-2, with a 5-1 division record.
The men extended their winning streak to four by defeating the Potsdam Bears 19-5 on Thursday, April 21. Freshman attacker Andrew Hanover led the team in scoring with six points, notching two goals of his own and assisting on four others. Sophomore attacker Dan Balestra added four points, including a team-high three goals and one assist. 12 different players scored goals for the Knights, including two from senior midfielder Owahn Bazydlo and junior attacker Mike Pizzuto.
Knight players also picked up assists on 12 of the 19 goals, showing that the team was moving the ball around well and taking the best shot opportunities. Coach Jim Lyons was impressed with his team's performance, adding that it was the most complete game the Knights have played all year. "This is a good time of the year to be playing well. All parts of our game came together and it was a complete effort," Lyons said. Lyons conceded that the Knights weren't happy with their play earlier in this season, and the team hopes to build on their win against Potsdam.
Another key factor to their success is the lack of games they have played. "Since we haven't played as many games as the other teams, we are fresher and can still challenge each other in practice" added Lyons. However, he does wish that they would have played the games. "In the end, you prefer to play instead of not playing, but we will hopefully use this towards our advantage," said Lyons of their smaller schedule.
The team is now 5-3 overall and 3-0 in the SUNYAC conference, which is a huge advantage. "Our goal is to win every conference game, since this means the tournament will come through us. Playing at home is definitely an advantage, putting us in the best possible position to win it," said Lyons of the key division games. The team couldn't have found a better time to but their best game together, and the games that lie ahead can make or break the season.