By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ — The State University of New York at New Paltz came away with three points on its home turf Saturday, defeating visiting SUNY Geneseo, 2-1.
The Hawks (7-1-2 overall, 2-1-1 SUNYAC) worked the ball around and controlled the pace from the start and created early chances resulting in a 1-0 lead in just the second minute.
An early ball played in to Gabriel Cruz allowed the fifth-year to work a service across the six-yard box. The Knights had trouble clearing with the loose ball trickling out to the feet of junior captain Joseph DiPreta who neatly tucked his shot bottom left corner for his fifth of the season.
Geneseo earned a break though in the 11th minute, resulting in a tied game. The Knights played a lofted long ball into the edge of the box with SUNY New Paltz sophomore Ryan Bochenski going up for the 50-50, but as he rose up to get a head on the ball he raised his hand, which hit first causing a penalty and a yellow card. Geneseo took advantage of the opportunity, as Tyler Lwandowski put away the attempt and tied the game at 1-1.
The Hawks made sure to pick up Bochenski after the play, and quickly regrouped managing to find another opportunity for a score before halftime was up.
“Most importantly, it was just a mistake, and you should never yell at someone for making a mistake like that, because it’s so early in the game that in can ruin their game and Ryan is one of my best friends. He’s a great soccer player and he knows he made a mistake,” said SUNY New Paltz junior goalkeeper Christian Micheli. “I think he did a great job bouncing back from that and it’s tough to go up and then tie, but I’m glad that we came out with the win.”
In the 24th minute, the Hawks worked the ball along the backline before finding Philip Varner down the left flank. The fifth-year senior beat his man down the sideline, cut the ball back to his right and served a dangerous out-swinging ball toward the middle of the six for Yare Harris who dove and got enough on his header to re-direct the ball into the far corner for the goal.
SUNY New Paltz nearly added another at the start of the second half. DiPreta worked his way into the left side of the box and snuck a bending shot toward the top right corner of goal two minutes into the period, but Knights goalie Vincent Maronski got a hand on the attempt to preserve the score. Geneseo did well defending the ensuing corner and limit the threat.
Midway through the half, the Hawks had another great opportunity as David Acker forced a foul about 30 yards out. He played the ensuing free kick into the box where SUNY New Paltz re-directed to the feet of Alex Wyant whose shot sailed just high of frame.
Geneseo threatened the lead in the final five minutes, but Micheli came up huge on numerous occasions but none bigger than in the final minute. The Knights broke through the Hawks’ backline on a misread in the midfield, resulting in a 1-v-1 on the far side between Micheli and Joe Vogt. Micheli came out, cut off the angle and got a foot on the shot for the kick-save to keep the advantage for his team. On the ensuing corner, he came out huge — literally using his 6-foot, 4-inch frame to punch the ball away through traffic to stymy the danger. The Hawks did enough to limit anything too serious on frame in the in the final seconds and closed out on their seventh victory of the year.
“I just think it’s important to be locked in for the full 90,” Micheli said. “You can’t slip up as a keeper, even if you don’t touch the ball for 20-25 minutes, you need to be locked in the whole game.”
Micheli was critical in the win, as he finished with six saves on 15 shots against. As a team, SUNY New Paltz was out-shot by the Knights, 15-8, including 7-4 on target. DiPreta led his team with four shots, three of which were on target with a goal in 78 minutes. Harris followed with two shots, one on tareget with a goal in 72 minutes played.
The three points helped the Hawks remain within the top-four on the conference leaderboard with two road games looking next week against Potsdam and current SUNYAC frontrunner SUNY Brockport.
“It was really important that we got the three points today, coming off a tie on Wednesday it’s always important to win the next game and get four points on the week minimum,” Micheli added. “I think our team came out fired up today. We were killing them in the first couple minutes of the game and continued to bring that energy throughout the first half and most of the second half and I’m glad that we came out with the win today.”