By JOHN CORYER Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team was less than six minutes away from a win Saturday afternoon.
What happened after that turned out to be the most disappointing outcome thus far this season for the Cardinals.
Darren McCormack forced overtime with a free kick with 5:17 left in regulation to tie it and Dillon Johnson drove home a rebound on McCormack’s free kick at 6:56 of overtime for a 2-1 Cortland decision in SUNY Athletic Conference play at the Field House Soccer Complex.
“Certainly, it was disappointing,” Plattsburgh coach Chris Waterbury said. “If we could have won and improved to 3-0 in the (conference) standings, it could have given us some separation. Now, we’re back in the pack at 2-1 with a lot of work to do.”
The Cardinals (8-2-1 2-1-0) did not play their best soccer of the season in the first half, but got out of it with neither team scoring.
“I didn’t think we played a good first half and really got away from some things,” Waterbury said. “I was happy to get out of the half at 0-0 because we had trouble clearing balls on corner kicks and our shape was wrong.
“But we made some good adjustments to start the second half and started to create some chances for ourselves.”
The Cardinals took the lead 10:22 into the second off some nice individual work by Matt Hamilton, who won a battle with a couple of Red Dragon defenders. The ball deflected to Tom Greene, who was wide-open in front to send the ball into the net.
“When we move the ball quickly like that, we create opportunities,” Waterbury said.
Plattsburgh maintained its one-goal lead until the 39:17 mark when Cortland (6-5, 3-1) was awarded a free kick just outside the box. McCormack sent a perfectly-placed shot into the upper corner of the net to tie it.
“It was a great free kick,” Waterbury said. “We had the wall set up and you couldn’t fault our keeper. The problem was everything leading up to the free kick. They shouldn’t have had one if we would have defended better.”
The Cardinals, however, continued to apply offensive pressure the rest of regulation and into the overtime, only to come away empty.
“For one reason or another, goals aren’t coming easy for us,” Waterbury said. “The final product is ever so close.”
The game was decided at the 6:56 mark of the first extra session when McCormack took another free kick from just outside the box. Plattsburgh keeper Mitchell Jordon made a diving save, but three Red Dragons crashed the net and Johnson was the one who got to it first to score the game-winner.
“Nobody tracked the runners,” Waterbury said. “Our keeper made the first save and we left him out to dry. All you can ask from your goalie is to make the first save. It all comes down to team defending and we didn’t do that.”
What made the loss even more frustrating was that the Cardinals held a 19-9 advantage in shots. Plattsburgh had a 12-1 edge in the second half alone, with Cortland scoring on its only shot on net.
Tim Beauvais made eight saves for the Red Dragons and Jordon finished with two for the Cardinals.
“At times, we showed our youth with our lack of composure,” Waterbury said. “In any game of any sport you play, you have to adjust to how the game is being refereed. We did a terrible job of that.
“We took some silly fouls, giving them opportunities they shouldn’t have been given. We lost our composure at critical times.”
The Cardinals now head out on the road for the first time in conference play this season when they play at Oneonta on Friday at 4 p.m. and then at New Paltz on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Cortland State 2,
Plattsburgh State 1, OT
Cortland State 0 1 1 — 2
Plattsburgh State 0 1 0 — 1
Second half- 1, PSU, Greene (Hamilton), 10:22. 2, C, McCormack, 39:17.
First overtime- 3, C, Johnson (McCormack), 6:56.
Shots: Plattsburgh State 19. Cortland State 9.
Saves: Beauvais, C, 8. Jordon, PSU, 8.