October 10, 2017

Upstate Update - Week 6

By Mani Tafari

The Upstate Update brings you up to speed on Division III men's soccer in the "Upstate" New York region, home to the SUNYAC, Liberty League, and Empire 8. Several key matches will be recapped each week along with a more in-depth look at a Game of the Week.

Game of the Week

Sage at Stevens

Saturday, October 7

This week’s game of the week features Empire 8 favorites Stevens against a Sage team poised to also make a run at the League crown.

The Empire 8 season is off to a tight start with Sage, Alfred, and Nazareth all pushing to finish at the top of the league. The Ducks from Stevens have stood in their way for the last few seasons.

Sage had a successful 2016 while competing in the Skyline conference. Despite a 7-8-5 overall record, the Gators caught fire late and were able to make it to the conference finals where they came up just short of an automatic bit to the NCAA. Life in the Empire 8 had been good so far this year, and Sage entered the game with a 7-3-0 record, while 2-1-0 in league play. A win over the Ducks would be a great way to end the first half of the season.

The Season Thus Far

At 2-0-1, an undefeated start to the league campaign has the Ducks feeling good. The team has played a strong non-conference schedule leading up to league play having faced off against Vassar, Haverford, and Oneonta State in September. Sage also played a formidable schedule to date, including clashes against Liberty League foes Clarkson and RPI.

This would be a game that could possibly decide who wins the league.

Game On

The visitors drew first blood, as senior Derlis Zayas registered the first goal of the game in the 25th minute. Sayas’ strike would prove to be the lone strike of the first half, but the game looked poised to produce more fireworks. Stevens tied the score in the 52nd minute when Haddy Abdelhady recorded a goal on a heads-up play. Only two minutes later Zayas would complete his brace to put Sage back on top. The dangerous striker is on his way to writing his name in Sage’s record book. Unfortunately for Sage nation, the next three goals of the game would be scored by the home team, as Stevens went on to win, 4-2.

Stevens won the statistical battle as well with a slight majority of possession, while outshooting Sage 21-13 and notching a 10-2 edge in corner kicks.

Take Away

This Sage team has shown that it is ready to do battle with the big boys, and has made a smooth and successful transition to the Empire 8 conference. The Gators are here to compete, and they showed that against the conference favorite.

Steady as she goes for Stevens, who will now look to fine-tune its play as we head toward November.

Around the Region

Buffalo State 1, Cortland State 0 - A Sofiane Hamadi goal and stifling defense was enough for Buffalo State to hold off the streaking Cortland Red Dragons. Cortland had been in great form before the game riding an eight game unbeaten streak which included strong wins over St. Lawrence and Oneonta. Buffalo also enjoyed Cortland’s run of success, as it allowed them to have an extremely good start to the season while sneaking up on an unsuspecting SUNYAC and region. Buffalo State remains undefeated in conference play, but no longer will have the element of surprise.

Ithaca 5, Bard 0 - I see, this is why they are called the Bombers. Watch for this team to become a consistent threat in its league. Bard must regain confidence and continue to fight in a tough league.

Oneonta State 1, Potsdam State 0 - These Red Dragons are now playing for home field advantage in the conference tournament.

RPI 1, Union 0 - RPI is a playoff team. It is as simple as that, Coach Clinton’s men will find a way in the postseason. This must seem like a recurrent nightmare for the Dutchmen -- doing well until the conference slate begins. There is still time to recover and change the script in 2017, but it must start now.

St. Lawrence 2, RIT 2 (2OT) - Will the real St. Lawrence please stand up? Great point on the road for RIT, who got the equalizer with 2 minutes to play. With the momentum gained from this result, the Tigers can build on this and snag that final playoff spot.

Nazareth 1, Alfred 0 - Nazareth continuing its good start to the conference schedule with a strong home win. Despite a below-par overall record, Alfred still looking in good shape for the post season.

Clarkson 1, Hobart 1 (2OT) - These Golden Knights just will not give up. The Statesmen must begin scoring goals if they hope to advance come tournament time.

Geneseo State 1, Brockport State 1 (2OT) - Two teams who needed a win settle for a tie in this SUNYAC clash.

Elmira 1, Utica 0 - The Soaring Eagles keep pace in a very compact Empire 8.

Vassar 1, Skidmore 1 (2OT) - A rematch of the 2016 conference final ended in a tie, with both teams knowing this could be the first of two meetings this season -- perhaps at the same location.

Team of the Week

Buffalo State

There is yet another contender for the SUNYAC crown.


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Upstate Update


The Upstate Update brings you up to speed on Division III men's soccer in the "Upstate" New York region, home to the SUNYAC, Liberty League, and Empire 8.  Several key matches will be recapped each week along with a more in-depth look at a Game of the Week.



Mani Tafari

Mani Tafari graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2001 with a History degree after four seasons playing for Bob Durocher that included the Saints untied, undefeated national championship season in 1999. Mani subsequently earned his law degree from Pace University School of Law (2009). He currently works as a criminal defense attorney and coaches soccer. He remains passionate about Division III soccer and is a loyal St. Lawrence alumus. In the summer of 2018 he shared his experiences as a player in his series, "Saint 4 Years, Saint 4 Life". [see full bio]


Mani Tafari in action

1999 National Champion with St. Lawrence.

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