PLATTSBURGH — Kirsten Villemaire's decisive first-half goal gave the Plattsburgh State women's soccer team a 1-0 victory against Potsdam in the first round of the SUNYAC playoffs Saturday.
Villemaire fired a shot at the 20:20 mark into a vacant Bears net and scored unassisted to put the Cardinals on the board.
“In the past couple of games, I've missed breakaways that I should have had, and I've learned off of that to keep my composure. It came through where it counted,” Villemaire said.
Plattsburgh had been preparing for this game and knew that the opposing team was going to be hard to beat, seeing as how it narrowly defeated Potsdam, 2-1, on Oct. 12.
“It feels great to win because as a team, we came to play. We knew that we had a big game in front of us, and we knew what we had to do to get the job done,” Villemaire said. “I think we all came together, and once we put our heads together, we got the win.”
The Cardinals ended up outshooting the Bears, 21-5, and took shots repeatedly to try to put another ball into the net.
Nerves were high for all the Plattsburgh players, and it took some time before they settled onto the turf and found their strides.
“I was just really proud of all the opportunities being created and how they handled the weight of the game since it was a win-or-go-home situation,” Cardinals coach Tania Armellino said. “They took some deep breaths and started to find feet around 15 minutes into the game.”
Armellino attributed much of the women's success to their continual communication with each other and their unending support even from the sidelines.
“I think sometimes earlier in the season, we would get sort of frustrated because things weren't going our way and suddenly it would get quiet, but we talked about externalizing and talking throughout the game,” Armellino said. “Even everyone on the sidelines to the field I felt was talking and keeping themselves in it. It's the only way to show someone that you're with them. You get it, and you're battling together.
“I think it's one of the best communication games we've had this year.”
Another bright aspect on the Plattsburgh side was the performance by the defenders.
Armellino thought the defensive squad of Alex Benjamin, Sarah Bonner, Nicole Kingsley and Jenna McCraken had performed the best they had all season.
“It was great because we worked on our defense shape especially in the last few days,” Armellino said.
They were also working on staying condensed and backing each other up if someone got beat because they were well aware of the power that the Potsdam team possessed.
“Potsdam is a very good team, and we knew that a couple of their players could produce,” Armellino said. “They can move, they're technical and they can shoot from distance, so we just tried to prep because we know they've done very well, and they won their last four games.”
Freshman goalkeeper Julia Ennis also landed another shutout for the Cardinals with a single save.
The Bears' Delphine Leonard came away with five saves.
“Julia Ennis had a wonderful save off the corner and did a couple of really great things during the game as well,” Armellino said.
Plattsburgh will continue onto the SUNYAC semifinals against top-seeded Geneseo, on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Geneseo.
The Cardinals played against the Knights previously on Oct. 4, but lost 2-0 in regulation play.
“We had two big mistakes that we unfortunately created when we played them before, and they capitalized, which is to the girls' credit that they did,” Armellino said. “I think going to them on the road when it's a win-or-go-home situation is just going to be about bringing that energy from (Saturday) and finding our way, hopefully to where we want to go which is the championship.”
The Plattsburgh team and Armellino are very excited for the semifinals and look forward to the game.
“We've always battled, and at times, we've been up or down, but the women are very talented, and it's really just been the belief I and coach Frantzy (Noze) have had in them all along,” Armellino said. “We always say that you can't control the outcome because if we could, we'd decide the goals right before we begin, but the truth is you can always control your performance.
“That's what I was most proud of (Saturday), and I can't wait to see us bring it on Wednesday.”
Plattsburgh State 1, Potsdam 0
Potsdam 0 0 — 0
Plattsburgh State 1 0 — 1
First half- 1, PSU, Villemaire, 20:20.
Shots- Plattsburgh State 21, Potsdam 5.
Saves- Ennis, PSU, 1. Leonard, POT, 5.
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