SUNYAC play for the women’s soccer team starts on Friday Sept. 26. Although the Knights are off to their best start in years (6-1-1), the game against SUNY Fredonia will be their first without any momentum as Geneseo fell 1-0 to St. Lawrence University on Saturday Sept. 20. “If somebody told me going into this season that after the end of our non-conference schedule we were going to be 6-1-1, I’d have been pretty happy with that,” head coach Nathan Wiley said. “It’s tough that the one loss came in the eighth game … but I think when you look at the whole of the first half of our season … there’s a lot of good things … to take from that.”
One problem the Knights had against the Saints was that they couldn’t finish possessions. Geneseo actually outshot St. Lawrence in the second half, but let in a goal on a Saints corner kick.
“If they were going to score against us, that’s how it was going to be,” Wiley said, speaking highly of St. Lawrence’s set play execution. “When you play a team the quality of St. Lawrence, you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities … unfortunately we didn’t create enough … and we didn’t finish any off.”
The Knights’ offense has been explosive to say the least this year, but it was hindered by windy conditions. The team’s new offense is built on possessing the ball longer than the other team and striking when it has the opportunity. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the exact style of play that Germany used to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup in July.
If we’re comparing SUNYAC teams to World Cup teams, then Fredonia and Buffalo State—the Knights’ next two opponents on Friday Sept. 26 and Saturday Sept. 27, respectively—are equivalent to Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Knights should have no problem beating either team.
“We’re playing at home, we’re opening up conference play and we want to make a statement,” Wiley said. “If we take care of what we want to do as a team and how we want to play, the results will take care of themselves.”
With that in mind, a key mental aspect on Friday and Saturday will be not looking ahead. On Oct. 3 and 4, the Knights will go on the road to SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Oneonta. New Paltz had the second best record in non-conference play, while Oneonta are the defending champions. Despite the impending road tests, Wiley says he is not looking too far ahead.
“Oneonta and New Paltz aren’t even on my mind at this point,” he said. “It’s about Fredonia and the game on Friday and that’s all that matters to us.”
SUNYAC games are the most important for Geneseo. The winner of the SUNYAC Tournament at the end of the season earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in November. If not, the Knights would have to be selected as one of only 17 at-large bids from around the country. Still, the pressure isn’t getting to Wiley or the team.
“We’re certainly not at a point where we need to worry at all,” Wiley said.