Upstate Update - Week 10
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
Nazareth at Stevens
Sunday, November 4
Nazareth entered the contest with a 12-6-1 record and punched their ticket to the finals with a 1-0 win over Alfred.
The Ducks were in search of their 11th conference title and hoping to dance for the 16th time in the last 18 seasons.
Conference finals are extremely serious affairs, the winner is invited to the dance while the losing team is left to hope and pray.
The Season Thus Far
Stevens were once again Empire 8 regular season champions and placed a 16-2-1 record on the line against a Nazareth team looking to win and dance.
Nazareth had won their last three games by a combined 10-1 score line and were playing their best soccer of the year. Stevens were 15-0-1 all-time against Nazareth and were eager to continue that good run.
Stevens attacked the game like a duck in water and played smooth and flowing soccer while keeping possession. Despite outshooting their guests and having a majority of the ball, the half ended scoreless.
The second half started much like the first with the Ducks applying constant pressure on a hard-working Nazareth back line. The pressure would pay off in the 56th minute when senior Chris Cesario put Stevens in front with a tap in. The senior went on to score an insurance goal earning himself tournament MVP and more importantly led his team into the big dance.
The Ducks are worthy champions and the undisputed kings of the Empire 8. Stevens enters the NCAA with a well-balanced team and good senior leadership, a combination that could see them make a deep run.
There will be no repeat of 2006 for Nazareth when the Golden Flyers last made an impressive run at the NCAA title. This season was successful for Nazareth, a winning record and trip to the conference finals will be good experience to take into 2019.
Stevens will be dancing and there will not be a team in the country excited to face them. They are a program with a great history who have had a great season, ingredients that bode well for soccer in November.
The Ducks will play Gordon next in the NCAA and will hope their experience and class can lead them to a deep run.
Around the Region
Brockport 2, Cortland 0 - The SUNYAC conference proved once again to be among the best in the nation. Traditional powerhouse Oneonta were on the outside looking in after falling in the semi-finals to Cortland who are having an impressive season themselves. Brockport had stopped a New Paltz program soaring to new heights in their semi-final and were looking to punch their ticket to the big dance. Jason Hayes and Quintin Volpe tormented the Red Dragons for the entire game to lead their team to a 2-0 win and the conference crown. An amazing accomplishment for a very good Brockport team. While other teams in the conference and region enjoyed greater publicity this season, they were constantly getting better week by week, culminating in the conference title. Up next for Brockport are St. Lawrence and a chance to extend a historic season. Cortland will be NCAA participants as well, in what is seemingly an annual occurrence. The Red Dragons are still a confident team who are aiming to bring a national championship to Cortland.
St. Lawrence 1, Ithaca 1 (2OT) - The first meeting of the season between these two teams ended in a scoreless tie. This time the difference was Saint goal keeper Mike Smith who stopped three Bomber penalties during the shootout to secure the league and tournament double for the hosts St. Lawrence. This experienced squad is playing well at the right time of the year but will have their hands full with a very talented Brockport this weekend.
Team of the Week
Ducks, Saints, Golden Eagles
Stevens, St. Lawrence, Brockport the Kings of New York.
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