The men's soccer team hosted Union College last Friday, defeating the team 3-1 and improving its overall record to 3-2-1. The Knights started an exceptional half with three major goal opportunities in the first 25 minutes of play.
Junior Ian Mort drew a foul in the box and earned the team a penalty kick in the eighth minute. The Knights couldn't capitalize on Mort's opportunity, but came back in the 13th minute when senior Yuta Shimizu passed to junior Colin Begy, who fired the shot from 15 yards out into the back of the net. In the 25th minute, junior John Piaggione fed the ball in front of the goal to Mort, who finished with a header into the upper right corner.
Head coach Mike Mooney said that at the 2-0 lead, his players were "in the same position as we were in a week ago," referring to the Clarkson match where his players let go of a solid lead to lose the game.
The Knights' defense remained tough, and Union "became frustrated when they didn't have time to operate," Mooney said. This frustration translated into a red card for the opposing team late in the first half. Mooney said that an ejection of a player from a game is often more difficult for the fully fielded team because the opponents change their defensive tactics and fight harder. Still, the Knights persevered for the remainder of the half, with junior Matt Solimano leading the steadfast defense and senior Mike Madarasz posting a first-half shutout in goal.
At halftime, Mooney said he encouraged his team to play the second half with the same amount of intensity as the first. He noted a "little bit of struggle" throughout the middle 25 minutes of the second half during which Union junior Craig Santangelo netted a goal for Union. This goal rejuvenated the opponent and the Knights continued to have "difficulty clearing the ball," Mooney said.
The final minutes, however, proved that the Knights came to win. Mort assisted senior Andy Marzo in the 88th minute; Marzo finished on a header for Geneseo's third goal.
Mooney noted the importance of his returning upperclassmen to the success of the Knights. He said that Mort is the "key guy up front;" Mort tallied six shots, one goal, one assist and a penalty kick opportunity in the match. Mooney also stressed that Marzo helped "win a lot of balls" and secure possession in the midfield, and that Solimano posted "great [defense]" against a tough opponent.
The Knights were able to "get through the game without collapsing," said Mooney. He looks to improve on defense for next week, pushing his players to mark opponents off the ball rather than just defending the ball.
The Knights go on the road to play their first SUNYAC series this weekend. Geneseo will face SUNY Potsdam and rival SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday and Saturday, respectively.