Geneseo men’s lacrosse suffered a pair of setbacks in their pursuit of making the playoffs this season, with a 13-6 loss to SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday April 22 and a 7-6 loss to SUNY Brockport on Wednesday April 26.
The Knights pulled ahead early in the game against Plattsburgh, leading 4-2 at the end of the first quarter. They were held to just two more goals over the remaining three quarters, however, as Plattsburgh took the lead halfway through the second and never looked back.
“They’re a good team,” head coach Nick Fiorentino said. “There were definitely some opportunities that we had that we didn’t execute on. It’s a great opportunity for us to reflect on our mistakes and take a step forward to get better.”
Junior forward Joshua Merkel led the Knights on the score sheet with two goals, both of which came in the first quarter. Fiorentino thinks the difference came down to possession and an inability to flow into an attack from defense.
“A lot of offense stems from defense,” he said. “There were times where we missed a few clears, missed a few ground balls, dropped a few passes and that kind of deflated us a little bit. [Plattsburgh] did a good job possessing and taking a lot more shots, so they were able to get into a better routine.”
With the loss to Plattsburgh, the Knights fell to 2-2 in the conference, they are tied with Brockport and SUNY Oswego for the final two spots in the SUNYAC Tournament. With Geneseo’s loss to Brockport and Oswego’s 10-11 loss to SUNY Cortland on Wednesday April 26, Brockport pulled ahead into third place at 3-2.
Geneseo now must beat last-place SUNY Oneonta at home on Saturday April 29 for a chance to get into the tournament. In a win-or-go-home situation, the team has had to regroup and reflect on the situation as part of their preparation.
“We had to take a deep breath and take into perspective what’s needed of us over this last week,” junior defender Ryan Cates said. “It’s been a lot of focus, effort and energy. It’s all we can control. The other things will come as long as we control those things and really put our best effort forward.”
Among other things, the Knights will have to rely on their defense. The defensive unit has been strong throughout the season, despite the relatively young players. Sophomore defenders Jack Crowley and Jake Okun have started every game this season, even though they are underclassmen.
“Our defense has done a good job [this year],” Fiorentino said. “We came into the year installing new systems, so I feel it’s kind of a benefit that they’re younger guys. They’ve done a good job.”
Despite not knowing what to expect out of their defense coming into the season with a new head coach, Cates believes that they have done an adequate job.
“It was a little bit of a question mark coming into the year,” Cates said. “But I think our defense has really been the cornerstone of our team.”
The Knights have faith in their abilities and have confidence that they can get the job done against Oneonta.
Beyond that, their belief is that the sky is the limit.
“We know if we get in, we can be a dangerous team, so we’re really confident,” Cates said.
With their season on the line, Geneseo men’s lacrosse will face off against Oneonta on Saturday April 29 at 12 p.m.