Men's soccer on the brink of playoff elimination

The men's soccer team split a pair of road games this weekend, defeating SUNYAC foe SUNY Oswego in overtime 1-0 on Friday Oct. 16 before falling to SUNY Cortland 1-0 on Saturday Oct. 17. The Knights are now 2-5 on the season in conference games, leaving them one loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention.

"We're playing our best soccer of the year, but the problem is that we aren't getting results," head coach Dominic Oliveri said. "We're struggling to create enough quality offensive opportunities. It's been frustrating because we're playing quality soccer. None of the teams have been much better than us on paper, but it's all about results."

The Knights appeared to be the better team against Oswego—winning the game and outshooting their opponent 20-12. In overtime, junior midfielder Matt D'Amico tallied his second game-winning goal of the season after beating the Oswego keeper one-on-one. Sophomore backer Kevin McGrath had the assist.

D'Amico has now scored eight goals and contributed two assists on the season, making him Geneseo's most dominant offensive weapon. But the junior has not started every game of the season and has also switched positions as Oliveri searches for potential solutions to closing out more games.

"I moved him to an outside position in the midfield where he's not on the ball as often and I think when he's not under pressure he plays much better," Oliveri said. "He's doing a hell of a job. He's been our one guy all year who has a knack for getting goals and opportunities."

McGrath is another player who has made an increasingly large impact on the offensive end. McGrath has picked up his performance following a sluggish start.

"The last month of the season he's been back to his old self," Oliveri said. "He makes smart decisions and has been a really solid player for us back there in the midfield."

The Knights' game against Cortland was close, but they couldn't recover from an early deficit after allowing a goal in the seventh minute. Close losses have been a consistent pattern for the team in conference play—four of the team's five conference losses have been by just one goal.

Only two conference games remain on the schedule and the Knights must win both if they hope to achieve even a low seed in the SUNYAC Tournament. The team is currently eighth in the standings—there are 10 teams in the conference. They need at least the sixth spot to qualify for the SUNYAC Tournament. The upcoming home game against 12-1-3 SUNY Plattsburgh could decide the season.

"We play them extremely well every year," Oliveri said. "They're one of the top teams in the conference, but last year we beat them up there and they know we're going to give them a game. With what's on the line I'm expecting us to play well and hopefully get the result we need."

Even with a win against Plattsburgh, the Knights will then also have to defeat another tough opponent in 9-5-1 SUNY Potsdam. And even with two wins, a playoff spot is not guaranteed—the current low playoff seeds Buffalo State and SUNY New Paltz need to lose or tie their remaining games to allow Geneseo to move up the standings.

"The guys are frustrated and we're sort of in a hole going into this weekend," Oliveri said. "We're still alive and we have a chance, but we need to take it one day at a time and worry about Friday."

The potential deciding game of the season against Plattsburgh will take place on Friday Oct. 23 at 3 p.m.