Upstate Update - Week 9
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
Vassar at RPI
Wednesday, October 30
The most surprising team in the Liberty League this season traveled north to face the number one ranked team in the region.
Vassar has been hit with some unfortunate injuries to big time players this year and have shown great spirit and determination to enter the game still fighting for a league crown.
The Engineers of RPI have been the class of the Liberty League and the region in 2019.
Coach Adam Clinton has his squad flying. RPI entered the game on a 14-game unbeaten streak and look a lock to be dancing in November regardless of what happens in the league tournament.
The Season Thus Far
Vassar had an uneven start to the season, but thanks to some big home wins are in good position to finish atop the Liberty League.
Great coaching and hungry players have been the hallmark of the Engineers this season. Entering the game, they were playing with a confidence that can only come from winning many soccer games.
The Brewers came to play. A very entertaining first half saw Vassar outshoot the Engineers 4-2 while dominating large portions of play.
A seemingly stern half time talk from Coach Clinton did the trick as RPI started the second half with more determination and better overall play.
The deadlock was broken in the 67th minute by Junior Trevor Bisson, who scored his fifth goal of the season. Bisson scored a header off a corner kick for the breakthrough goal that gave the home fans what they came to see.
Feeding off the electricity of the crowd, RPI struck again in the 75th minute to secure the game as well as the 2019 Liberty League regular season crown.
Well deserved victory for RPI, a team destined to play in the NCAA. Before then, however, there is the matter of a league tournament where the Engineers will look to pull off the double.
Vassar must now refocus on the league tournament and securing home field advantage, which they will with a victory over the Tigers who are on deck.
Around the Region
RIT 2, Ithaca 1 (2OT) - RIT is determined to get into the League tournament and did themselves no harm by dispatching a tough Ithaca squad. The Bombers are beginning to fade after a very impressive start. Winning the league tournament may be their only road to the dance.
St. Lawrence 1, Skidmore 0 - The reports of St. Lawrence’s demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated. The Saints are still alive but must win away at the always difficult Statesmen and hope that the Brewers take care of business when they face the Tigers.
Oneonta 3, Plattsburgh 0 - Red Dragons are moving from strength to strength and are peaking at exactly the right time of the season. This well-balanced team is the perfect mix of senior leadership and young talent. There are several freshmen starters and the team possesses perhaps the most dangerous player in college soccer at the moment.
Whitman Hernandez scored his 19th and 20th goals of the college season and assisted on the 10th goal of the year. A player who has been dominant for all four years, Hernandez was SUNYAC Rookie of the Year in 2016, a year in which he also made the all-conference first team. Since then he has done nothing but score and create. He is described by iconic Coach Iain Byrne as a player who can do it all, “He is a playmaker as well as a finisher, a pure forward who also has the ability to create as well”. Players like Hernandez come along once in a generation.
Any current high school senior would be more than content to finish their college career with double figures in both goals and assists. Hernandez has managed this feat in a single season. He now leads all NCAA divisions with 20 goals and 10 assists, good for 50 points. With games remaining to play, he has already eclipsed program goals and points records. The goals record stood for 41 years.
What makes his accomplishments even more impressive is that this is a player who plays better in the big games, and the SUNYAC and NCAA playoffs are right around the corner. The young man has already had a historic season and career; he now has a chance to lead his school to the promised land as an additional bonus.
Team of the Week
All hail the Kings.
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail us.