By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — When the Plattsburgh State and Cortland men’s soccer teams last met, the host Red Dragons recorded a 4-3 overtime win to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season.
The two go at it again today, with the stakes much higher.
No. 1 seed Plattsburgh (16-2-1, 7-2) will host No. 4 seed Cortland (9-7-1, 5-3-1) at 11 a.m. in the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals at the Field House Soccer Complex.
“Ironically, the two teams (Cortland and Geneseo) who beat us during the regular season played each other in the first round,” Plattsburgh coach Chris Waterbury said. “So we were going to have an opportunity to play against a team that beat us no matter what.
“I know our guys like the opportunity to get another chance to play Cortland. But they’re a good team. They’re a combination of a lot of things and are a well-rounded team.”
The other semifinal will take place at 1:30 p.m., when No. 2 seed Oneonta (11-5-1, 7-2) takes on surprising New Paltz (12-7-1, 4-5). The sixth-seeded Hawks recorded a 1-0 victory over No. 3 seed Brockport in the quarterfinals. The Golden Eagles’ bid for the top seed in the tournament ended in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Cardinals on the final day of the regular season.
Cortland advanced on with a 3-1 victory over Geneseo in the opening round.
Due to the inclement weather earlier in the week downstate, the New Paltz at Oneonta semifinal was moved to Plattsburgh as part of a doubleheader. The championship game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. in Plattsburgh.
“The change has no effect on us,” Waterbury said. “We’ve had a good week of practice, and the few extra days allowed us to get even more healthy.
“It’s going to be the first time we’ve played in 10 days. But we can’t use that as an excuse — we can’t make any excuses. We’re playing at home, and that’s everything we’ve worked for.”
The Cardinals and Red Dragons played a high-scoring affair on Sept. 28. Cortland held a 3-1 lead before Plattsburgh scored two goals in the final 10 minutes, including the tying goal by Ethan Votraw with 29 seconds left in regulation.
Chris McBride then won it for Cortland with 1:10 gone in the first overtime. Plattsburgh entered the game with a 10-0 overall record.
“No question, a lot of crazy things happened in that game,” said Waterbury. “I hope we learned a lot from that game.
“We played an adequate first half and were up 1-0. But then it got crazy. We had lost Fabian Chaparro to a dislocated elbow in a recent game. And in this game, Matt Martin dislocated his elbow, and then we lost Mike Payne to a separated shoulder.
“Mike missed a penalty kick prior to getting hurt, and then they came down and scored a good goal for them and a bad one for us. They went up 3-1, and on their third goal, it was raining and our defender fell down. It was one of those days. We made a comeback that was a little too late. Then they win the game on a penalty kick. Certain games you have it and certain games you don’t. We didn’t have it that day.”
The four goals were the most Plattsburgh has allowed in any game this season.
“I don’t know what kind of game it’s going to be,” Waterbury said. “I can’t speak for the offense, but I do know I don’t want to give up four goals again. Outside of that earlier game against Cortland, I don’t think anyone has scored more than two goals against us.”
Six Plattsburgh players have 10 points or more on the season, led by Matt Hamilton (9-1-19) and Nick Parrella (6-5-17).
Andy Heighington has an 11-2-1 record, including six shutouts, in net, while teammate Zack Kruizenga is 5-0 with one shutout.
“I think we’re playing pretty good soccer right now,” Waterbury said. “We had that rash of injuries during the middle of the season, and all but Matt Martin are back now. Actually, it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise for us because we had to put some people in different roles, and that ended up making us deeper.
“We feel good about where we’re going.”
Should the Cardinals win, they and the other semifinal winner will be playing on back-to-back grueling days.
“If this would have happened in late September, we would have been in huge trouble with the injuries we had,” said Waterbury.