The Knights needed just one win to ensure a bye in the women’s soccer SUNYAC tournament. They did one better—the Knights beat SUNY Plattsburgh 1-0 on Oct. 24 and SUNY Potsdam 2-0 on Saturday Oct. 25. Not only did Geneseo earn itself a bye, it clinched the top overall seed. The Knights earned 22 points out of a possible 27 this season in SUNYAC play—no team in the conference has gotten more than that in more than five years.
The Knights have certainly earned their regular season title. In their nine conference games, they lost just one and allowed only four goals. In theory, all Geneseo needs to do is keep up its style of play and it could easily get into the NCAA Tournament.
To get there, the Knights first need to win a SUNYAC semifinal game against either SUNY Oneonta or Plattsburgh on Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. here at Geneseo. Assuming they win that game, the Knights would host SUNY Cortland, SUNY Fredonia or Buffalo State in the SUNYAC championship. Geneseo could get into the NCAA Tournament through an at-large bid if they did not win the conference, but those bids are very difficult to get.
Despite the end goal being so close, head coach Nate Wiley thinks his team is focused on the task directly in front of them.
“Our approach this whole season has been such that we take each day as it comes,” he said. “We’re going to prepare the same way we would normally prepare … whoever we end up with, that’s who we prepare for.”
Fine-tuning will be important for the Knights. Their defense has been dominant all season, but their offense has fallen off a bit in recent games. The extra days of practice should be very beneficial for Geneseo.
“I think certainly having a little bit of a break is nice,” Wiley said. “It gives us some time to work on some things that we need to polish up and get a little bit better at.”
Look for the Knights to rely heavily on freshman midfielder and forward Leah Greene. Greene scored only one goal in Geneseo’s final two games, bringing her season total to 11. Her average of .611 goals ranks her fourth in the SUNYAC.
Still, that was the regular season. The SUNYAC tournament is a whole different beast.
“After Saturday’s game with Potsdam, we congratulated the team on winning the regular season, but that’s over now,” Wiley said. “There will be a time to celebrate all that stuff and that’ll come well after the season is over with ... as long as we still have a next game to focus on, that’s what we’re going to be focusing on.”
History may not be on the Knights’ side. Geneseo is just 4-9-1 all-time in the SUNYAC championship game. Their last win came in 2009 against Cortland. If the Knights are going to make a run at a title, however, this is the year to do it.