All-SUNYAC first-teamer Dylan Williams, a sophomore, leads Oneonta this season with 23 points (10 goals, three assists). Zef Saljanin is next with 16 points (seven goals, two assists), followed by Alex Winiarski (12 points), Luke Halberg (10 points) and Jake Sutherland (10 points). Halberg also made the SUNYAC’s First Team. Sutherland earned a spot on the Second Team.
Goalie Vincent Pellegrino will bring a 0.75 goals against average, a 5-3-3 record and three shutouts into Saturday’s NCAA opener. Fellow keeper Daniel DeBottis is 5-1-1 with a 0.74 goals against average and one shutout for Oneonta, which has outscored opponents, 43-14, this fall.
“We know that the NCAA tournament is a collection of the best teams in the country, so there are no easy matches,” said Byrne, whose program will make its seventh NCAA appearance. “The guys are excited to be playing soccer at this time of year. Our goal is to play to the best of our ability and hopefully entertain the crowds with some attacking soccer.”
Saturday’s winners will meet Sunday in Rochester at a time to be determined. Sunday’s winner will advance to sectionals next weekend.
O-State’s women open NCAA play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at William Smith College. The SUNYAC champion Red Dragons (12-4-3) will meet Skyline Conference winner Farmingdale State College (13-9) in the second of two games at William Smith.
The first game pits Liberty League champ William Smith (17-1) against Colonial States Athletic Conference winner Cabrini (12-3-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday. Winners will meet Sunday back at William Smith.
Oneonta will play Farmingdale State for the first time in program history. The Red Dragons haven’t played Cabrini, either, but they’re 0-2 against William Smith.
O-State will make its 14th NCAA appearance and first since 2010, when they were knocked out of the sectional round by William Smith.
“I know we have a tough road ahead of us, but we are playing great team soccer right now and anything can happen,” said O-State coach and Stamford graduate Liz McGrail, who played for the Red Dragons around the turn of the century. “We have talked about making small steps forward each day all year and that is all we can continue to do.”