By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ — Deep into overtime, the State University of New York at New Paltz were grinding out a tough fought match against visiting Geneseo with playoff seeding on the line.
Senior captain Hannah Ackerman gave the Hawks the opening lead 50-plus minutes earlier before the Knights tied the game, deflating the home crowd with two minutes left in regulation. Ackerman had just hustled for a full 70-plus minutes and was working up and down in a 7-v-7 overtime but brought everything in the final minutes to push through all the fatigue to make one last play.
Winning the ball in the corner on the offensive end, Ackerman burned her defender and sent a dangerous pass across the face of the goal for teammate Amanda Quenneville who lifted a shot just over Knights goalie Sarah Quinlan for the game-winner to push SUNY New Paltz to a 2-1 double overtime win Saturday on North Turf Field.
“My sisters were out here today so it means a lot,” Ackerman said. “Watching them, I just take that into what I do and I just wanted to show that hard work pays off and they’re my biggest role models so always got to come out on top for them.”
SUNY New Paltz was on the losing end of both overtime games played on the year entering the matchup, while also having all four of its losses come as one-score games. As the game winded down Saturday though, the Hawks were destined for a different result.
Ackerman scored the game’s opening goal in the second quarter off a corner. Meghan Gunning earned the set play after getting tied up with a Knights defender in the circle.
Miranda Britton inserted to Rachel Tama who laid off a pass to Ackerman. The senior fired a shot toward the far post, which ricocheted off a defender’s stick and into the goal to give her team a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the half.
The Hawks battled through a scoreless third quarter and nearly came away with a 1-0 win until Katrina Clare scored with two minutes left in regulation to push the game into extra time.
SUNY New Paltz garnered more opportunities in overtime than the Knights, registering seven shots in the first 10 minutes and limiting the Geneseo to two. Gail Comiskey (five saves) came out and made a huge stop with six minutes left, coming out strong to make a sliding save in space to keep the score tied.
The Hawks once again held the advantage in the circle, registering four shots in the three minutes played of the second overtime. Following a penalty corner, SUNY New Paltz earned a long hit to keep the ball inside its offensive 25. Ackerman found the ball and drove endline and the game ended from there as her pass found Quenneville who put away the game-winning score to seal a hard-fought game.
“That game winner was just a deep breath, weight off our shoulders,” Ackerman said. “We worked really hard for this, and we needed that second seed. We want to play on our home field, and it just meant a lot to do it in overtime on our own field today.”
Tama led the Hawks with 10 shots, seven on frame with an assist on the day with Ackerman following offensively, registering five shots with one goal and an assist.
“Coming into this game we knew we have been struggling finishing inside the circle, so we really just emphasized just stick down at all times, keeping our feet moving and we really came out and did that today,” Ackerman said. “We still had a couple balls go wide but we made sure to capitalize in overtime.”
The victory puts SUNY New Paltz in prime positioning for the No. 2 seed heading into the SUNYAC Tournament with one more regular season conference game left on the schedule in the Oneonta Red Dragons Wednesday. A win secures the second spot in the SUNYAC Tournament with Cortland atop the conference standings.