A sluggish early start cost the SUNY Potsdam men's soccer team as the Bears lost a 4-2 SUNYAC match to visiting Buffalo State on Saturday afternoon at Maxcy Turf Field.
Potsdam (8-7-1 overall, 2-4-1 SUNYAC) battled back from an early three-goal deficit within the opening 15:01 of play, but ultimately were unable to complete the comeback.
Buffalo State (7-7-1 overall, 3-4 SUNYAC) came out as the aggressors with goals from senior Anthony Appiani (N. Tonawanda, N.Y. / N. Tonawanda), junior Francesco Cardillo (Tonawanda, N.Y. / St. Thomas Aquinas, ON) and sophomore Keegan Lezama (Milton, ON / Bishop Reding).
Entering play, the Bears were sitting in the sixth-and final-playoff seed in the SUNYAC standings. The loss by Potsdam pushes the Bengals ahead of them in the conference standings by a point.
Potsdam will need to make up ground in their final two road conference matches against SUNY Geneseo on Friday at 3 p.m. and on Saturday at Brockport at 1 p.m. if it were to qualify for the SUNYAC playoffs. The tournament play-in games would begin on Nov. 2 with locations and times to be determined.
It was senior day for the Bears on Saturday as well with Alessio Vitale (Liverpool, N.Y. / Liverpool), Ben Steinberg (Potsdam, N.Y. / Potsdam) and Stefan Sloma (Niskayuna, N.Y. / Niskayuna) being recognized in a pre-game tribute.
Sloma helped keep the Bears in the match by checking in goal at the 29:59 mark of the first half to relieve junior Alex Pavone (Churchville, N. Y. / Churchville-Chili). Sloma finished out the rest of the half without incident and allowed just one goal and came up with five saves in 74:59 of action.
Potsdam (5-3-1 at home) made the match interesting when freshman Chris Schrum (Roosevelt Island, N.Y. / Millennium) headed in his second goal in as many days on a free kick feed from sophomore Tom Benedetto (Queensbury, N.Y. / Queensbury). Benedetto now leads the team in assists with four.
The gap closed even tighter when sophomore midfielder Mario Riccardi (Beacon, N. Y. / Beacon) lofted a ball over goal keeper Ian Huntoon's head with just 45 seconds remaining in the first half. Riccardi's first career goal came on a pass from sophomore Johnny Zator (Lido Beach, N.Y. / Long Beach), who notched his first career assist.
The second half grew into a much more defensive match by both teams with Potsdam beginning to match Buffalo State's energy. The Bengals outshot the Bears 23-16, but 9-7 in the shots on goal department.
The Bengals added an insurance goal from Dylan Ross (Staten Island, N. Y. / St. Peter's Boys) who scored his fifth goal of the season on a long free kick from Matthew Wong (Coventry, England / Binswood Sixth Form) in the 75th minute.
Junior Eduardo Figueroa (Rochester, N. Y. / Dr. Freddie Thomas) took six shots including a header that was a near miss that went wide in the closing minutes of the match.