By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Precious seconds were ticking away on the Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team Saturday.
The Cardinals needed a win over The College at Brockport to clinch the SUNY Athletic Conference regular season title and the Golden Eagles, needing only a tie to finish in first place, were just 2:04 away from escaping the Field House Soccer Complex with a 1-all overtime deadlock and the crown.
But Matt Hamilton’s goal late in the second extra
session lifted the Cardinals (16-2, 7-2) to a dramatic and hard-fought 2-1 victory, giving Plattsburgh the top seed throughout the SUNYAC Tournament.
The game, which was delayed a half hour in the first overtime because of thunder and lightning, was a good one to win and a tough one to lose.
“I told the guys that this was as close to a playoff game as you can get,” said Plattsburgh coach Chris Waterbury. “I really liked the way we played — we did some really good things.
“Sometimes as hard as you play, it’s still not enough to score. Brockport was playing hard, too.”
Hamilton’s game-winning goal came with 7:56 gone in the second extra session and it was the end result of a corner kick.
“Basically, after the ball was kicked in, Fabian (Chaparro) won the head ball and flicked it off one of their players,” said Hamilton. “It came to me and I one-timed it off their goalie and into the net. It was a nutty goal in a crazy game like this.
“I can’t take full credit for the goal because I wasn’t the first to it. Credit goes to Fabian for being there first and I was lucky to be there.”
There was certainly a sense of urgency for the Cardinals.
“We had to press a little harder but we didn’t panic,” said Hamilton. “We always want to play the same way because that’s our best chance to score. It gets frustrating at times but we were able to get it done.”
“At the start of the second overtime, we dropped off a back and added another forward,” said Waterbury. “We had to win the game. It didn’t matter if we lost or it ended in a tie because the end result would have been the same.”
The Golden Eagles (8-7-1, 6-2-1) grabbed the early lead when Dan Turchan scored on a header off a Nick Tata corner kick at the 6:34 mark.
“They scored the early goal but nobody had their heads down,” said Waterbury. “I thought we clearly won the first half.”
The Cardinals drew even at 19:36 when Mike Payne tipped a Tom Greene cross into the net.
That would be all the scoring until the second overtime.
“I thought we moved the ball well,” said Waterbury. “A lot of players did the subtle things it takes and we got good leadership. I thought we were wearing them down as the game went on.
“But for a while, it seemed the gods were against us. We had the weather delay and then I was worried about having another one and not getting the game in.”
The Cardinals finished with a 14-10 advantage in shots and a 13-4 edge in corner kicks, including a 9-2 margin in the first half.
“We could have done better with our corner kicks but Brockport is very good in the air,” said Waterbury.
Andy Heighington made two saves in the Plattsburgh nets on Senior Day and Casey Sullivan one stop for the Golden Eagles.
“Absolutely, it was a heck of a game,” said Hamilton. “Give Brockport credit because they came out flying. They’re a great team.
“At the beginning of the season, we set a few goals and the first was to win the regular season championship in the conference. We’re very excited about the win, but we’re not done as a team yet. I feel great and so does the entire team. But after the emotion of this game is over, we have to move forward.”
The Cardinals, who bounced back from Friday’s 2-1 loss to Geneseo, close out regular season play on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. nonconference home game against nationally-ranked St. Lawrence University. Plattsburgh entered the weekend ranked 17th in one Division III poll.
Plattsburgh 2, Brockport 1 (OT)
Brockport 1 0 0 0 — 1
Plattsburgh 1 0 0 1 — 2
First half- 1, Brock, Turchan (Tata), 6:34. 2, PSU, Payne (Greene), 19:36.
Second overtime- 3, PSU, Hamilton, 7:56.
Shots: Plattsburgh 14, Brockport 10.
Saves: Sullivan, Brock, 1. Heighington, PSU, 2.