By JOHN CORYER Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team is well aware of the task at hand.
With no chance of making the NCAA Division III Tournament as an at-large team, the Cardinals are in a must-win situation from this point on.
It starts today at 1 p.m. when the fourth-seeded Cardinals (12-5-1, 6-3) host fifth-seeded Buffalo State (9-8-1, 4-5) in the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals at the Field House Soccer Complex.
“We’re in a position where it’s now one and done,” Plattsburgh coach Chris Waterbury said. “The road to winning the conference championship, however, is no tougher than it usually is. We have to win three games and we’re capable of doing that.
“We’re healthy right now and if we lose to Buffalo State, it won’t be because of injuries. We’re at home and we’re looking forward to it. Realistically, this could be our last home game. We’re excited about playing and where we are, and we want to continue to grow as a team.”
Plattsburgh hosted Buffalo State on October 18 in regular season play and the Cardinals emerged with an exciting 3-2 overtime win.
Ethan Votraw scored in the first half and Fabian Chaparro in the second to give the Cardnials a 2-0 lead before the Bengals tied it on two goals by Andrew Dugan in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Then, just one minute into the first overtime, Chaparro won it with a bicycle kick that was seen later that evening on ESPN Sports Center highlights.
“Buffalo State was better in the box than we were,” Waterbury said. “They have a couple of very dynamic players who can create problems for opposing defenses.
“When we played them the first time this season, we let them hang around and they never gave up. We didn’t finish the game well and that gave them a little bit of life. To their credit, they felt that life and snatched it. They played hard.
“Plus, they are on a roll of late and they won’t go away quietly.”
The Cardinals went into the 2013 season with talent up front and a great deal of inexperience and youth in the back.
“The strengths going into the season were our skill, speed and attack,” Waterbury said. “One of the surprises for us has been our ability to generate a lot of scoring chances. But we still haven’t established a true goal scorer. We’re getting goals by committee.
“We’re young on defense and also with our keepers. In the run of play, our defense has been fantastic. Where we have struggled is on team defense on free kicks and corner kicks. We have not been good defending in those areas.
“We’re not that big a team and it’s reasonable to assume that we are the smallest team in the conference. It comes down to us being aggressive and that has been enough for us to be successful most times.”
The Cardinals are being led in scoring by Alexis Archilla (7-3-17), Matt Hamilton (6-4-16), Tom Greene (4-5-13) and Nick Parrella (3-4-10).
Mitchell Jordon has an 8-4 record in net, with a 0.98 goals-against. Plattsburgh has a 38-17 scoring edge over its opponents.
C.J. Scirto (7-8-22), Dylan Ross (5-5-15), Dugan (4-1-9), Keegan Lezama (4-0-8) and Franceso Cardillo (4-0-8) are the leading point producers for Buffalo State, which has a 34-25 scoring edge over its foes.
The other quarterfinal today has third-seeded The College of Brockport (10-1-5, 5-1-3) hosting sixth-seeded Potsdam (9-8-1, 3-5-1).
Top-seeded Oneonta (11-3-4, 7-0-2) and second-seeded Cortland (10-6-1, 6-2-1) each get a bye in the opening round.