A crisp chill marking the first nights of fall was in the air, but the Castleton men’s soccer team felt a different kind of cold sting as they took their first loss at Spartan Stadium to the talented Plattsburgh State Cardinals, 3-1, on Sept. 16. Noticeably missing from the defense was Nick Bellizzi, who was still nursing a leg injury. Bellizzi’s absence presented the opportunity for numerous other Castleton players to step up. One of those players was Chris Mulholland, who acted as a fourth defenseman at times, putting a stop to many of Plattsburgh’s offensive advances.
The fancy Plattsburgh offense ran into the tough Spartan defense, creating a lot of midfield battles early. Plattsburgh’s relentless offense constantly pressured the defense, creating little to no offense for Castleton throughout the game.
“They [Plattsburgh] have a veteran club, [and] our kids are stepping up, and we’re really pleased with our young guys,” Castleton coach John Werner said of his team’s performance.
Plattsburgh drew first blood in the 32nd minute of the first half as the ball was lobbed over the Spartan defense to the head of Plattsburgh’s John LoGuirato. Loguirato’s header slipped into the lower right corner of keeper Mike Anthony’s goal.
It proved to be bad luck scheduling wise for Castleton to face a hot Plattsburgh team when they did.
“[Plattsburgh’s coach] told me that we caught them on their best night of the year,” Werner said.
Plattsburgh’s offense began to pour it on as halftime approached, narrowly missing goals on corners and free kicks. In an all out attack by the Cardinals in the final minute of the half, Anthony was taken out hard by a streaking player in red, and no call came from the officials.
Castleton answered three minutes into the second half with a blast from freshman Billy Lund. Lund danced around two defenders just outside the box and ripped a shot that bent up, over and around the Plattsburgh keeper.
“I guess so,” said Lund, laughing after being asked if he had it in his mind that he was going to shoot it from when he got the ball. “When you shoot them, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.”
The tie stood for another 10 minutes until Plattsburgh scored two quick ones. The first was a blast from about 25 yards out off a free-kick, and the second came from a volleyed corner kick.
In the end, Plattsburgh had launched a total of 21 shots to Castleton’s five.
“We are at the point where we don’t want to be satisfied by playing these teams to get better; we want to start beating these teams,” said Werner with a tired look. “In that regard, tonight’s disappointing.”
Castleton opened North Atlantic Conference play on the road Saturday, Sept. 19, at Lyndon State. The Spartans got revenge from Wednesday’s Plattsburgh loss, beating Lyndon 3-0 as Josh Costa scored on a penalty kick in the win. The Spartans currently have a record of 4-3 and 1-0 in NAC play.