The men's soccer team traveled to SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday for the first round of SUNYAC playoffs, failing to advance after a 1-1 tie with a devastating 3-5 loss in penalty kicks.
The Knights rounded out their season with a 9-7-2 overall record and 5-4-0 record in SUNYAC play.
Geneseo, seeded fifth, came out stronger than ever against its rival, fourth seed Plattsburgh. The first half brought even competition from both teams in what head coach Mike Mooney called a "tough battle." The Cardinals got the first goal of the match in the 33rd minute when junior Stjepan Bandov headed in a free kick fed by senior Chris Taylor. Plattsburgh maintained pressure after the goal, finishing the half with more shots and corner kicks than Geneseo.
At halftime, Mooney told his players to "leave everything on the field" and take any means necessary in order to advance.
"I told the boys, in playoffs, it's not about touches or playing well. It's about winning the ball. It's not going to be pretty," Mooney said.
The Knights came out with a vengeance in the second half, evening the corner kick count and taking more shots on goal. The team finally got the equalizer in the 81st minute when freshman Pat Lynch fired a shot from 35 yards out that deflected off a defender into the back of the net.
With no scoring in the remaining minutes of regular play, the teams went into golden-goal overtime. Neither team scored over two overtime periods, and a penalty kick shootout commenced to determine advancement.
According to Mooney, shootouts are often "more nerve-wracking for the shooters than the goalies." This notion rang true for his team; the Knights were outshot 3-5. Senior Ben Ariola, junior Colin Begy and junior James Hainsworth completed attempts for the Knights. Though Plattsburgh converted on all five kicks, junior goalkeeper Sam Murphy came up big for Geneseo throughout the game, posting four saves.
Mooney said that losing in the shootout was "a tough way for the kids to come up short," stressing that he was very proud with the way his team persevered throughout the match. Though he hopes for better consistency and more physicality in next year's team, Mooney finished the season "pleased with the boys' improvement."
"We found what needed to be done and, by the end, did it," Mooney said. "We never quit, and as a coach, you have to be happy with that."