By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team controlled the majority of play and held a wide edge in shots in its SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal against Cortland on Friday.
The Cardinals, however, found themselves down, 2-1, with 15 minutes left in regulation at the Field House Soccer Complex.
But top-seeded Plattsburgh (17-2-1) erupted for three goals and escaped with a 4-2 victory to avenge a regular season loss to the Red Dragons (9-8-1).
“It was a redemption game for us,” said Plattsburgh coach Chris Waterbury. “We had lost to them (4-3 in overtime) the first time we played them and we had a ton of issues in that game.
“We didn’t play our best game of the season today, but it wasn’t our worst. These games are a war and we survived.”
Plattsburgh will play second-seeded Oneonta, a 2-1 semifinal winner over New Paltz, in today’s 1 p.m. championship game.
Cortland took a 2-1 lead with 12:44 gone in the second half when Chris Barbosa crossed the ball to Bryan Merlos who drilled a hard shot into the corner from near the top of the box.
“You couldn’t help but think about the situation we were in.” said Waterbury.
The Red Dragons then began to play well with the lead until the Cardinals got the equalizer at the 30:32 mark. Mike Payne’s corner kick was headed into the net by Steve Zacharczyk.
“Absolutely, getting the second goal was big for us as far as the momentum of the game was concerned,” said Waterbury.
Still, the Red Dragons nearly regained the lead when a Cortland shot deflected off the crossbar with a little over 12 minutes left.
Plattsburgh then brought the ball down the field and the Cardinals were awarded a penalty kick when a Plattsburgh player was taken down in the box. Matt Hamilton made good on it at the 33:37 mark to give the Cardinals the lead for good, at 3-2.
The Cardinals added the finishing touch at 41:32 when Joe Aratari got the ball to Nick Parrella, who scored his second goal of the game with a low shot that bounced off the post and deflected into the other corner.
The Cardinals were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
“The fourth goal put the nail in the coffin,” said Waterbury.
Plattsburgh grabbed the early lead at 13:21 of the first half when Parrella scored in front after taking a Jason Baker cross.
But a defensive miscue led to the Red Dragons tying it up at 31:30 when Barbosa was able to get behind the Plattsburgh defense, which didn’t have its best of days.
“It starts with team defense,” said Waterbury. “When a breakdown like that happens, it starts when something went wrong up top.”
The Cardinals finished with a 22-5 shot advantage, including a 12-2 edge in the first half, and a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks, including a 4-0 edge in the second half.
“I give credit to Cortland for coming in with a good game plan,” said Waterbury. “They had only five shots at goal, but they were all pretty quality chances.
“I thought that with the layoff, we were a little stale at times. But we did carry the play a lot of the time and it was a pretty good team effort.”
Andy Heighington was not credited with a save in the Plattsburgh nets, while Tim Beauvais made six stops for Cortland.
Oneonta 2, New Paltz 1
Jake Sutherland’s goal with 9:52 gone in the second half lifted the Red Dragons (12-5-1) past the Hawks (11-8-1).
Sutherland won a head ball, beat the New Paltz defense and found the back of the net to break a 1-all tie.
Harrison Lane gave the Hawks the lead at 14:28 of the first half before Luke Halberg answered, off a Colin Volpe cross, at 29:40 to tie it.
Daniel DeBottis made two saves in the Oneonta nets and Steven Domino one stop for New Paltz.
The Red Dragons and Cardinals met once during the regular season and Plattsburgh prevailed, 3-2, when Tom Greene’s second goal of the contest, which came early in the second overtime, decided the issue.
Plattsburgh 4, Cortland 2
Cortland 1 1 — 2
Plattsburgh 1 3 — 4
First half- 1, PSU, Parrella (Baker), 13;21. 2, Cort, Barbosa (Merlos), 31:30.
Second half- 3, Cort, Merlos (Barbosa), 12:44. 4, PSU, Zacharczyk (Payne), 30:32. 5, PSU, Hamilton pk, 33:37. 6, PSU, Parrella (Aratari), 41:32.
Shots: Plattsburgh 22, Cortland 5.
Saves: Beauvais, Cort, 6. Heighington, PSU, 0.
Oneonta 2, New Paltz 1
New Paltz 1 0 — 1
Oneonta 1 1 — 2
First half- 1, NP, Lane (Cordini), 14:28. 2, One, Halberg (Volpe), 29:40.
Second half- 3, One, Sutherland, 9;52.
Shots: New Paltz 9, Oneonta 8.
Saves: Domino, NP, 1. DeBottis, One, 2.