SUNY Cortland men's soccer hosting NCAA regional

SUNY Cortland's Stadium Complex.

SUNY Cortland's Stadium Complex.

The SUNY Cortland men’s soccer team has earned a berth into the 62-team NCAA Division III playoffs and will host a four-team regional on Saturday and Sunday, November 12-13. The Red Dragons (17-2) will play Morrisville State (16-3) in the opening round Saturday at 5 p.m., with Scranton (14-3-1) facing Penn State Behrend (17-1-3) in the other first-round game at 7:30 p.m. The two winners will meet in the second round at Cortland Sunday at 5 p.m.

Cortland, under fifth-year head coach Steve Axtell, won its 18th SUNYAC title and first since 2008 with a 1-0 win over Oneonta in Cortland this past Saturday. Cortland established a new school single-season record with its 17th victory, and extended its school record with its 14th shutout.

All four teams at the regional are automatic qualifiers. Morrisville won its third straight North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) title, Scranton captured its second consecutive Landmark Conference crown, and Penn St. Behrend won the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) title for the third time in the last four years.

Cortland is making its 20th NCAA tournament appearance and second in three years. The Red Dragons advanced to the "Sweet 16" in 2014 with wins over Neumann and Rutgers-Newark. Cortland has six top-five national finishes, including a second-place showing in 1977 and a third-place finish in 1978. Three of Cortland’s 19 previous NCAA tournament appearances came as a Division I program in 1960, 1964 and 1966 prior to the advent of Division III.

Cortland opened the season with five straight wins before falling at St. Lawrence, 2-1, and Oneonta, 3-0. Since those losses the Red Dragons have won 12 straight games, 10 by shutout, and for the season have outscored their opponents by a 40-8 margin.

Connor Young (Bayport/Bayport-Blue Point) took over in goal late in the Oneonta loss and has started since. The SUNYAC tournament MVP, Young is 12-0 with 10 shutouts, a 0.17 goals-against average and a Division III leading .965 save percentage. Nick Tata (Rochester/Aquinas Institute), Tyler Kirschner (Dix Hills/Half Hollow Hills East) and Daniel Friend (Deer Park) joined Young on the SUNYAC all-tournament team. Tata leads the team with 11 goals in addition to two assists for 24 points. Kirschner has five goals and a team-best six assists, including assists on the Red Dragons' two 1-0 SUNYAC tournament victories, and Friend has five goals and four assists for 14 points.