Special to the OBSERVER
Fredonia State and Oneonta will meet Friday in a SUNYAC Tournament semifinal at Roberts Wesleyan College at 1:30 p.m.
The No. 3 seeded Blue Devils take a 12-3-3 record into the game, including a 6-2-1 record in the SUNYAC. One of those conference games was a 1-0 Fredonia State win over Oneonta on Oct. 19.
In that game, junior forward Kristi Putzig (Williamsville) was on the receiving end of a pass into the box from junior midfielder Katie Kleine (Cazenovia). Following a scramble with a Oneonta defender, Putzig controlled the ball and while falling to the ground angled a left-footed shot into the upper right corner of the net. It turned out to be the only shot-on-goal the Blue Devils managed the entire game. They were outshot 25-8 and out-cornered 9-1.
Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Meaghan Meszaros (Selden) made five saves while recording her seventh shutout of the season.
"Playing and beating a team a second time is never easy," Fredonia State head coach Chris Case said. "Oneonta is a very good team. They have good individual players that also play well together within their team concept."
At the time, the loss dropped the Red Dragons (11-6-1 overall, 7-2-0 SUNYAC) out of first place in the conference. They finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed, yet still earned a SUNYAC Tournament first-round bye. The Blue Devils advanced to Fridays' game by ousting New Paltz last Saturday at University Stadium.
While the final score was officially a 2-2 tie, the Blue Devils outlasted the Hawks, 3-2, in seven rounds of penalty kicks. Freshman midfielder Ally Tatro (Fairport), junior midfielder Catie Hale (Lockport), and junior defender Shannon Letina (Clarence) were successful on their PKs with Letina's ending the shootout while Meszaros made three diving stops during the PK session and three saves in the double-overtime game.
The Blue Devils will be attempting to advance to the SUNYAC title game for the first time. They have played in three other semifinals, including a 1-0 loss last year to New Paltz, and have a 2-4-2 record in five SUNYAC Tournament appearances (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2011).
See FSU, Page B3
Oneonta is making is 17th SUNYAC Tournament appearance. The Red Dragons have won the championship 13 times, mostly recently in 2010.
"We will have our hands full," Case said, "and will have to play very well to advance to our program's first-ever conference final."
The winner advances to the conference championship game 1 p.m. Saturday against either No. 1 Brockport or No. 4 Cortland, also at Roberts Wesleyan. The SUNYAC champion qualifies automatically for the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Devils making 10th straight SUNYAC appearance
Despite its rebuilding year, the Fredonia State women's volleyball team finds itself in its 10th straight SUNYAC Tournament.
The freshmen-laden Blue Devils (18-15) qualified as the No. 2 seed from a SUNYAC's West Division ending a streak of five straight years as the West's No. 1 seed.
Instead, No. 1 seed Buffalo State will play host to the six-team tournament starting Friday and running through Sunday.
Potsdam meets Oneonta at noon Friday, a play-in match to determine the No. 3 seed from the East, with the winner advancing to meet the Blue Devils at 6 p.m.
"We're very much looking forward to playing post-season volleyball," Blue Devil head coach Geoff Braun said. "This is what you play for. A win-and-move-on or lose-and-go-home scenario is exciting. I'm anxious to see how our team responds to it."
Nine of the 15 Blue Devils on the current roster are freshmen. Of those nine, five have consistently appeared in Braun's starting lineup.
In addition, four upperclassmen have been either starters or important reserves in 2012 the lone senior, outside hitter Lindsey Olson; and three juniors, outside hitter Hannah Manning, libero/outside hitter Lauren O'Hara and outside hitter Kaitlin Orcutt.
"We have a versatile offense," Braun said, "which will allow a lot of different people to step up."
The mix of upperclassmen and freshmen has produced Fredonia State's 13th SUNYAC Tournament team in Braun's 14 seasons as head coach. In addition, the current team was on hand for Braun's milestone 300th coaching victory Sept. 25 at Medaille. His current record is 307-183.