SUNYAC competition has finally begun for Geneseo men’s lacrosse. The Knights had a great start on Saturday April 8, beating SUNY Oswego on the road in overtime 8-7. They then took a loss 12-8 at home to defending SUNYAC champions SUNY Cortland on Wednesday April 12.
Junior forward Alex Leuze was the overtime hero against Oswego, scoring the game-winner with 1:29 left. Leuze finished with three goals in the game—his highest scoring game as a Knight. Head coach Nick Fiorentino confirmed that the game was as close as it looks on paper, but that a late timeout just before the winning goal was crucial in pushing them over the edge.
“It took all 60 minutes and a little extra,” he said. “We were able to get the ball on the ground defensively and get it to the other side of the field to call timeout. What we talked about and what we thought would happen happened and the guys took advantage of it.”
With just five conference games that decide who advances to the SUNYAC Tournament, every game has the potential to either make or break a team’s hopes of the playoffs. The Knights are currently in a four-year playoff drought, but a win like Saturday April 12’s can set them on the right track.
“You play a team once and that’s it,” Fiorentino said. “You have to get on top of those victories because once you get two or three games in, you know what place you’re fighting for. You don’t want to be the guys on the outside looking in.”
Sophomore forward Zachary DeBottis said the players understand the weight of these games as well.
“It’s the biggest part of the season,” he said. “Every game you just have to grind it out because every team wants to beat every team in this conference.”
Having to go up against a 9-1 Cortland team a few days later, a loss to Oswego could have put the Knights in a hole that would have been difficult to climb out of. Even with the win under their belt, the men saw room for improvement leading up to the game on Wednesday April 12.
“Anytime you play a quality opponent, you’re going to find a lot of things you have to do better, and that was the case on Saturday,” Fiorentino said.
When asked how he was preparing the team for a tough game against Cortland, Fiorentino relied on a mantra he has trusted throughout the season: worrying only about what they can control.
“We can control our effort and our attitude,” he said. “Everything we do is about what we can control, so we’re going to be high energy and be thorough in our preparation.”
Ultimately, the Knights came up short, suffering a 12-8 setback to the 24-time SUNYAC Champions the Red Dragons.
With 17 goals and 11 assists totaling a team-high 28 points, DeBottis is gaining a reputation as an offensive leader for Geneseo. Pleased with the success he’s having thus far this season, he credits the new system Fiorentino has brought in in his first season as head coach.
“Coach [Fiorentino] puts me in a lot of good spaces to either get shots or set up shots for my teammates,” DeBottis said. “His system works well with the guys we have. He wants to play to all of our strengths rather than put in a universal system that might not work for everyone.”
By following up a solid freshman season with the impressive stat line he is putting together this spring season, it is clear that DeBottis has a bright future with the Knights.
Geneseo men’s lacrosse are 7-3 on the season and will fight for their second conference win on the road, facing SUNY Potsdam on Saturday April 15 at 1 p.m.