MARCY, N.Y. – It was a tale of two halves for the Wildcats on Friday evening. After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first 45 minutes, SUNYIT gave up 3 scores in the second period en route to a 3-2 loss.
While the bizarre events of the second half dominated the narrative (two of SUNY Purchase's scores came on plays for which an admittedly biased Wildcat crowd wanted an offsides call), the game itself marked a new era for SUNYIT. The departure of decorated players Malick Faye and Diego Montaleza, who together own nearly every SUNYIT Men's Soccer record in the book and led the team to 3 conference championships in the last 4 years, leaves the team still with plenty of talent but with two very big pairs of shoes to fill.
It was fitting, therefore, that a completely new face would score SUNYIT's first goal, as freshman Austin Roney (Middleburgh, N.Y. / Middleburgh) delivered the game's first point in the 33rd minute. Roney received some help from a more familiar face, however, in the form of Matt Arcidiacono, whose well-placed chip shot from outside the penalty box ricocheted off the crossbar and allowed Roney to head home the game's first goal.
Things appeared to be going the home team's way, as while the Wildcats went into halftime holding just a 1-0 lead, they had out shot the Panthers a whopping 14 to 0 in the first 45 minutes.
Everything changed in the second half, starting with a Matthew Ebel goal off a Panther corner kick to tie the game in the 56th minute.
Eight minutes later SUNYIT retook the lead on a beautiful play between Bazo Coulibaly and Luke Bogar. Working up the field in transition, Coulibaly played a beautiful ball from the near side to the far, leading Bogar perfectly to allow the junior midfielder to beat his man and get a one-on-one with the goalie. Bogar expertly handled the pass on the far side of the field, then poked the ball back to the near corner to beat the oncoming goalie.
Up 2-1 with just under 27 minutes to play, things would change drastically for the Wildcats.
It began with another Matthew Ebel goal in the 72nd minute. While Ebel made a nice sliding kick on an excellent long pass from teammate Junior Sanguina, Ebel appeared to be clearly offsides when he made the play deep in the SUNYIT goalie box.
Two minutes later with the home crowd still reeling from the play, the Panthers connected again on what seemed to be another possible offsides call, this time resulting in a one-on-one for Enea Canaj that proved to be the winning goal.
Despite the strange pair of events, the Wildcats showed fight down the stretch. Sophomore Nick McBride was active all night, but worked especially hard to get a couple free kicks in the remaining minutes. SUNYIT was unable to capitalize on any more opportunities, though, settling for the 3-2 loss.
The Wildcats will return to action on Wednesday as they host cross-town rival Utica College at 6 pm.