A 1-0 halftime deficit was not about to detour the SUNY Potsdam men's soccer team.
Instead, the Bears delivered a second-half flourish and got goals from Alex Minsker, Alessio Vitale and Ben Firlit as Potsdam went on the road and rallied past SUNY New Paltz 3-1 to pick up an important conference victory.
Potsdam (7-5-1 overall, 1-2-1 SUNYAC) secured the game winner in the 77th minute, when Vitale, a senior midfielder, raced through the New Paltz defense on a nifty open-field feed from freshman defender Chris Schrum for a 2-1 lead that would hold.
It was Vitale's fourth goal of the season and first since his two-goal performance on Sept. 4 against Johnson State.
"I thought we were playing really well even though we were behind," said Potsdam coach Adam Parker. "We were dangerous. We were getting good possessions. I thought it was probably the best that we've played all year. We attacked more as a team."
New Paltz (3-8-2 overall, 2-3 SUNYAC) took the early lead on a rebound goal from freshman midfielder Sam Spring. It was Spring's first of the season.
But Potsdam received reinforcements from two players who notched their first goals of the season.
The first of which knotted the match at 1-1 when Minsker, a junior midfielder, accepted a through-ball pass from sophomore midfielder James Turcott in the 53rd minute.
After Vitale's goal put the Bears up 2-1, Firlit's goal in the 84th minute released some late-game tension as his score gave the team some extra insurance. After gathering a pass from Tom Benedetto, Firlit approached the goal from the left side and slid the ball into the right corner past Hawks' goalie Steven Domino.
Potsdam regained control in the second half and wound up earning a 21-6 advantage in shots and 10-4 in shots on goal.
Junior goal keeper Alex Pavone (Churchville, N.Y. / Churchville-Chili) started his first game and recorded three saves. Pavone, a member of the Potsdam men's lacrosse team, is in his first season on the soccer team.
Coach Parker also pointed to the play of sophomore Johnny Zator, who played soundly from the center midfielder position, as a key factor in the match.
Potsdam will have a quick turnaround as the Bears will play at Oneonta State on Saturday at 1 p.m.