By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Chris Waterbury couldn’t have asked for a whole lot more from his Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team on Saturday.
But, on this day, it wasn’t good enough.
Oneonta State captured the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament championship with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Cardinals at the Field House Soccer Complex.
“I was proud of the guys’ effort — they played hard,” said Waterbury. “They gave everything that was asked of them.
“When you don’t put a lot into something, it doesn’t hurt as much. But, when you do put a lot into something, it hurts a lot more. It’s devastating.”
The Cardinals (17-3-1) held a 21-13 advantage in shots, including a 13-6 edge in the second half. Plattsburgh also held a 13-3 edge in corner kicks, including a 9-0 advantage in the second half.
The Red Dragons held their ground defensively, withstanding a number of scrambles in front of their net, and made good use of their transition game.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way,” said Waterbury.
Both teams had a number of chances to get on the scoreboard in the first half, only to go into halftime still scoreless.
“It could have been a 2-all game at the half,” said Waterbury.
It remained scoreless until 33:29 was gone in the second half when Oneonta caught Plattsburgh in transition. Luke Hallberg went down the right side and sent a hard shot low into the far corner.
“Their best players are their attackers,” said Waterbury. “They are a great team in transition.”
Jake Sutherland then gave the second-seeded Red Dragons (13-5-1) a 2-0 lead with 2:15 left in regulation when the Cardinals were caught.
“They scored with 11 minutes left in the game to take the lead and we were forced to throw everyone up to try and get the equalizer,” said Waterbury. “We were able to apply a lot of pressure, but that also makes you susceptible to a counter attack.”
Despite falling behind, 2-0, with little time remaining, the Cardinals still made it interesting at the end.
Jason Baker got the ball to Steve Zacharczyk, who headed it into the net with 1:48 left on the clock to put Plattsburgh on the board.
“The guys played hard to the end,” said Waterbury. “Their goalie made a save on the end line as the game ended.
“Our guys deserved better.”
Daniel DeBottis made six saves in the Oneonta nets, while Andy Heighington stopped one shot for the Cardinals. With the victory, the Red Dragons gained an automatic spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Oneonta avenged an earlier 3-2 overtime loss to Plattsburgh during the regular season.
Representing the Cardinals on the all-tournament team were Matt Hamilton, Tom Greene and Nick Pourakis.
Oneonta’s Dan Scott was chosen as the Most Valuable Player and Mitchell Cain, Sutherland and Colin Volpe were Red Dragons named to the all-tournament team. The remainder of the team included Cortland’s Anthony Mariello and Tim Beauvais, along with New Paltz’s Harrison Lane and Shanshe Khosroshvili.
Oneonta 2, Plattsburgh 1
Oneonta 0 2 — 2
Plattsburgh 0 1 — 1
Second half- 1, One, Halberg, 33:29. 2, One, Sutherland, 42:45. 3, PSU, Zacharczyk (Baker), 43:12.
Shots: Plattsburgh 21, Oneonta 13.
Saves: DeBottis, One, 6. Heighington, PSU, 1.