The Geneseo men’s soccer team struggled this weekend in Buffalo. They went into their Friday Sept. 28 game with a 3-3-2 record overall and a 1-1-0 mark in the conference.
On Friday night, the Knights squared off against the Buffalo State Bengals in a game filled with interesting storylines. Their previous matchup with the Bengals came on Oct. 28, 2017 when they defeated the Bengals 2-0 in the SUNYAC Quarterfinals. During that 2017 game, Buffalo State’s coach was none other than Mark Howlett—the brand new head coach of the Knights.
Howlett talked to his new team before the game and addressed the 500-pound gorilla in the room. He admitted his old team was going to be a tough opponent, according to junior midfielder Junsei Ro. Howlett said the Bengals would be playing hard to beat their old coach and get revenge for last year’s loss.
Despite all those distractions weighing on the team’s mind, the Knights came out to a hot start. Sophomore midfielder Marco LaRocca opened up the game with a goal off a corner kick in the 13th minute, the first of his collegiate career.
“It was beautiful,” sophomore midfielder Ben Wagoner said of the early goal. “It was a screamer that went over the goalie’s head and hit side net … it was amazing.”
Ro attributed the Knights’ early success to effective player-to-player communication on the field.
“We were all talking,” Ro said. “We all knew where all of our teammates were on the field.”
The Knights soon surrendered the lead, however, off a breakaway goal by Buffalo State in the 39th minute. The game remained knotted up through regulation and through the first overtime period.
In the second overtime period, both LaRocca and junior midfielder Bryan Wager made shots on goal, but neither could find the back of the net. The Bengals answered back with two shots of their own in the 108th minute, but junior goalie Dillon Medd swallowed up both shots, bringing his save total to five that game.
Two minutes later, the final whistle blew, ending the game in a 1-1 draw. Geneseo inherited a 3-3-3 record.
Later on that same night, the Knights hopped on a bus to drive an hour southwest to Fredonia where they would play SUNY Fredonia the next afternoon. The Blue Devils took the pitch against Geneseo with a 2-6-1 record.
Ro admitted he and his team did not take Fredonia seriously considering their record. During the game, however, neither team could assert their dominance. Ro mustered the Knights’ only shot on goal for the entire game. Fredonia sent five shots on net during regulation, but Medd turned them all away, notching another five saves on Saturday.
The Knights had a chance to steal the game away in the 85th minute when senior defender Greg Baumstein sent a header wide of the net. The final five minutes of the game washed off the clock, taking a 0-0 draw into overtime.
After an uneventful first overtime where neither team took a shot, the Blue Devils scored with seven minutes left in the game. The golden goal effectively ended the Knights’ weekend in Buffalo, sending them home with an unfortunate 3-4-3 record and just one goal through 227 minutes of play.
On Monday Oct. 1, the men blew off some steam at Livingston Lanes.
“[The bonding event allowed the team to] see each other in a more relaxed atmosphere and talk about something other than soccer,” Wagoner said.
The Knights look to build off this weekend and their team bonding event to improve their SUNYAC record that currently sits at 1-2-1.
They can potentially improve to 3-2-1 in the SUNYAC against SUNY Oneonta on Friday Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. and SUNY New Paltz on Saturday Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. Both games will be played at home.