On Saturday October 27 The King's College Men's Soccer team traveled to the College of Albany Pharmacy to take on SUNY-ESF in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) Playoff Semi-finals. After losing 3-0 to the Oaks in their regular season meeting, the Lions were looking to turn the tables in their first postseason match since King's moved to New York City.
Both teams played somewhat tentatively in the first half not wanting to make a mistake or expose their defense and goalkeeper to any careless or unnecessary scoring chances. The first shot of the first half was not registered until Cooper Weinman of ESF fired one wide in the 13th minute. ESF held a 6-2 shot advantage in the first half, but TKC junior gaolkeeper Craig Wishart was only forced to make one tough save on those six shots. ESF also had a 4-0 edge in corner kicks in the first half, but the Lions defense was able to clear those out quickly to avoid any danger.
However, in the 30th minute King's finally break through as HVIAC Player of the Year Edwin Loefgren found HVIAC Rookie of the Year Spencer Smith with a brilliant through ball up the right side. Smith gathered the ball in full stride and slammed a shot to the near side of the goal for his conference leading 17th goal of the season. The final 15 minutes of the first half would tick away with neither team registering a shot as King's took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
While the teams combined for 8 shots in the first half, the second half was just as conservative as ESF outshot King's 5-4. Corner kicks were even with each team taking just one. The battles were being fought predominantly in the middle third of the field and around the edges of the penalty area. However, this is where the Oaks proved to be the most dangerous. In the 52nd minute ESF tied the game when they were awarded a free kick outside the box and Ben Uetz lofted the ball to a charging Luke Day who slipped it past Wishart to tie the score. The Oaks pulled ahead 2-1 on a similar play when King's again committed a foul outside the box to the right of Wishart. The Oaks' Owen Henkler sent the ball into the box to Nicholas Schiera who collected his first goal of the season.
King's tried get back into the game as Loefgren sent an unsuccessful header on goal just 3 minutes after ESF had taken the lead. The Lions also had a chance on a corner kick in the 80th minute but could not find the back of the net. ESF bunkered down defensively in the last 10 minutes of the game preventing King's from creating any scoring chances. When the final whistle blew, ESF had come from behind for the 2-1 win and a trip to Sunday's final against the College of New Rochelle.
King's finished the season 10-3 overall with a 4-2 record in the HVIAC conference regular season. The team will now wait until Tuesday to find out if they will receive a bid to the USCAA National Championships in Virginia Beach next week.
SUNY-ESF won the HVIAC Championship on Sunday with a 2-1 win against the College of New Rochelle. The Oaks again came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit.