Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Tyler Kirschner (22), taking a tumble against Plattsburgh, is the team’s second leading scorer heading into the playoffs.
Everyone wants to head into the postseason playing their best, which is just what the SUNY Cortland men’s soccer and women’s field hockey squads are doing.
Under the direction of head coach Steve Axtell, the Red Dragons have won 10 consecutive games heading into the SUNY Athletic Conference soccer playoffs as the top seed.
Under the direction of new heach coach Tiffany Hubbard, the Red Dragons have won nine consecutive games heading into the SUNY Athletic Conference field hockey playoffs as the top seeds.
MEN’S SOCCER: Cortland (15-2) will host Buffalo State (11-6-1) on Wednesday in the conference semifinals, that game a 1 p.m. start at the Stadium Complex main field. The Bengals were among the victims during this late-season Cortland surge, losing to the Red Dragons 1-0 back on Oct. 8.
Fourth-seed Buffalo State topped fifth-seed New Paltz 2-0 in the quarterfinals this past Saturday, as Cortland and second-seed Oneonta had first round playoff byes.
Oneonta (13-5-1) will play host to third-seed Fredonia (11-6-2) in the other semifnial on Wednesday afternoon, with the title game slated for Saturday at 1 p.m. with the highest remaining seed acting as host.
The Red Dragons finished 8-1 in conference play while grabbing first place, the lone loss coming against host Oneonta by a 3-0 margin. Cortland has not dropped a game since that setback.
Senior captain Nick Tata is the leading scorer for the Red Dragons, having 11 goals to go along with a pair of assists. It was Tata’s goal late in the second half that lifted Cortland over Buffalo State in the previous meeting.
Senior striker Tyler Kirschner and senior midfielder Daniel Friend both have five goals and four assists. Senior defender Jack Sumski has contributed four goals to a Cortland offense that has out-scored foes by a 38-8 margin.
Junior goalie Connor Young has been crucial to this late-season success, now 10-0 as a starter with a 0.20 goals-against average. Young posted shutouts in eight of those 10 victories.
Cortland is currently ranked first in the NCAA Division III East Region rankings as of Oct. 26 and would likely be in good shape for an NCAA at-large berth if it doesn’t win the SUNYAC tournament.
Cortland has won 17 SUNYAC titles, most recently in 2008. The Red Dragons are one win shy of matching the school record for wins in a season with 16, set in both 2003 and 2014.
FIELD HOCKEY: Cortland (14-3) will take on fourth-seed Oneonta (5-10) at 2 p.m. on Wednesday in the SUNYAC semifinals, that game a 2 p.m. start at the Stadium Complex White Field.
The other semifinal that same day will have third-seed Geneseo (9-8) traveling to second-seed New Paltz (9-8),with the same starting time.
The highest remaining seed will host the championship game Saturday at 1 p.m. with an NCAA automatic berth on the line. New Paltz has won the last four league playoff titles, including victories in the finals over Cortland in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Cortland has won 14 SUNYAC titles — three straight from 1984-86 before the league discontinued the sport and 11 since 2000 when the sport was re-started. The league began using a postseason tournament to crown its champion in 2010.
All three of Cortland’s losses have come to regionally-ranked teams — Rochester, St. John Fisher and Skidmore. The Red Dragons were a perfect 6-0 in the SUNYAC regular seasn.
Gabby Stein earned SUNYAC Offensive Athlete of the Week honors after scoring three goals goals in a win over St. Lawrence a week ago and delivering the overtime game-winner in a 2-1 win at Union last Saturday. The senior out of Maine-Endwell currently is tied for second at Cortland with 63 career goals and fourth with 150 career points (63 goals-24 assists).
Stein tops the team with 16 goals and 13 assists, while sophomore forward Jessica Welsh out of Hamilton has 15 goals and 11 assists. Sophomore Jess Gilbaldi had nine goals and three assists, while junior captain Meg Redmond steadies the defense and has scored four times.
Sophomore goalie Kailynn Reinoehl has made 97 saves in 16 games, with three shutouts contributing to her 0.83 goals-against average.
Earlier this season, Cortland was a 3-0 winner at Oneonta.
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL: With a seventh place regular season finish, Cortland missed out on the SUNYAC playoffs which get underway this evening.
In a pair of 6 p.m. quarterfinal round matches tonight, fifth-seed Geneseo (16-14) visits fourth-seed Fredonia (19-12) while sixth-seed Oswego (14-14) plays at third-seed New Paltz (17-13).
Regular season champion and top-seed Brockport hosts the semifinals and finals this weekend. The Oswego-New Paltz winner takes on second-seed Oneonta (14-15) in Friday’s first semifinal at 4 p.m. and Brockport (30-3) faces the Geneseo-Fredonia winner at 7 p.m.
The finals are at 4 p.m. Saturday.