Oneonta State’s longest road trip of the season could be just around the corner.
Of course, the Red Dragons men and women will have to win an awful lot between now and Dec. 6, when the NCAA Division III Tournament semifinals will start in San Antonio, Texas.
Two seasons removed from their first NCAA D-III championship-weekend trip to Texas, O-State’s men will make their third straight tournament appearance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the University of Rochester. The Red Dragons (11-4-4) of the SUNY Athletic Conference will play Oberlin College of the North Coast Athletic Conference in the second of two first-round men’s games at Edwin Fauver Stadium. Neither team won their respective conference tournament titles, but both received Pool C berths into the field of 61.
Tournament host and University Athletic Association champion Rochester (13-2-2) will meet North Eastern Athletic Conference winner SUNYIT (16-1-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the other first-round game at Fauver Stadium.
Oneonta will play first-time NCAA qualifier Oberlin (13-3-4) for the first time in program history. The Red Dragons are 2-1 against the other teams in their mini-pool as they lost to Rochester, 1-0, in 2010 but won a pair of 4-0 games against former SUNYAC foe SUNYIT.
O-State won the SUNYAC’s regular-season crown to earn the top seed for the conference tournament but lost to Plattsburgh, 1-0, in the semifinals.
“As we found out in the SUNYAC Tournament, being the dominant team in the regular season counts for nothing,” O-State coach Iain Byrne said in a media release from the college. “Making our third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, we know how difficult it is to win games against this level of competition. Postseason soccer is all about performing on the day. The team that limits its mistakes and takes their chances usually ends up winning.”