Aggressive Play Helps Men’s Soccer Advance to SUNYAC Championship
Coach Gary LaPietra credits his team’s passion and drive as the building blocks to another competitive year.
SUNY Brockport men’s soccer team is in the midst of an impressive season this year, and the explanation for it lies beneath the surface. The Golden Eagles feature a squad of highly skilled players, ranging from freshmen to veterans, but the atmosphere Coach Gary LaPietra has created is what keeps his teams perennially in contention.
In his 23rd season as Brockport’s head coach, LaPietra has formed a winning tradition. He preaches the importance of “growing together” as a team and, with the help of his assistant coaches, he seeks to develop his veteran players into leaders.
“We hold weekly leadership council meetings to get them excited about being a team leader and what their role is, as well as teaching them how to be successful leaders,” LaPietra said. “Everything we do, we do together.”
That leadership has led to on-field success, as the Golden Eagles have put together a 14-4-2 record heading into the SUNYAC championship this weekend. Brockport will play at rival Cortland on Saturday. Game time has yet to be announced.
The Golden Eagles advanced to the finals by beating New Paltz 2-0. Freshman forward Matthew Stefaniw scored a pair of goals, and then Brockport rode a strong defensive effort into the championship game.
Brockport looks to continue its winning effort as it advances in the postseason. In order to do so, LaPietra is stressing consistency to his team.
“We want to stay consistent to what our approach has been,” said LaPietra. “And continue to play the style we’ve been playing.”
That style he refers to is a high-tempo, aggressive attack that frustrates the opposition’s game plan and allows Brockport to dictate the match.
“We want to make the opposing team very uncomfortable in what they do and take them out of their rhythm,” LaPietra said. “We need to compete with the desire and passion to be a two-way player and help our team in every situation.”
With only three seniors on the team, it has been imperative for the underclassmen to take on more responsibility than in years past. Freshmen Ayub Jeylani and Stefaniw lead the team with 10 and 12 goals, respectively, and a combined 44 points overall. Their contribution has been crucial to the team’s success this current season.
A win on Saturday would secure the Golden Eagles an automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs.