The SUNY Cortland men’s soccer team has earned an at-large berth into the 62-team NCAA Division III playoffs and will host a four-team regional on Saturday and Sunday, November 11-12. The Red Dragons (15-3) will play Mount Saint Mary (N.Y.) (12-7) in the first round Saturday at 11 a.m., with Middlebury (12-6) meeting Stevens Institute (11-6-2) in the other first-round game at 1:30 p.m. The two winners will meet in the second round at Cortland Sunday at 1 p.m.
Cortland, under sixth-year head coach Steve Axtell, will be making its 21st NCAA tournament appearance and third in four years. The Red Dragons were the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) regular-season champions, but lost in the league tournament semifinals and were selected for one of 19 national “Pool C” at-large bids.
Cortland advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16” last year with home wins over Morrisville, 5-1, and Scranton, 2-1, before losing, 1-0 in overtime, to Franklin & Marshall in the third round. The Red Dragons also progressed to the national third round in 2014 with neutral-field wins over Neumann, 3-0, and Rutgers-Newark, 2-1, in Babson Park, Mass. Cortland has nine top-five national finishes, including a second-place showing in 1977, a third-place finish in 1978 and a tie for third in 1982. Three of Cortland’s previous NCAA tournament appearances came as a Division I program in 1960, 1964 and 1966 prior to the advent of Division III.
Mt. St. Mary earned its second Skyline Conference title and NCAA tournament automatic berth with a 1-0 win over St. Joseph’s (Long Island) in the league tournament finals. The Knights last made the NCAA tournament in 2013 and lost 1-0 in overtime versus nationally seventh-ranked York (Pa.).
Middlebury was an NCAA at-large selection after falling to defending national champion Tufts, 1-0, in the finals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament. The Panthers are making their 11th NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2010. Middlebury won the 2007 national title.
Stevens defeated The Sage Colleges, 1-0, on a goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation to win the Empire 8 tournament title and earn an NCAA automatic bid. The Ducks won their 10th league title since joining the Empire 8 in 2007 and will be making their 15th NCAA appearance, all since 2001. Stevens was the national runner-up in 2008, advancing past Middlebury in penalty kicks in the semifinals before losing in penalty kicks to Messiah in the finals.
Cam LaVallee (Schenectady/Schalmont) leads Cortland this fall with 21 points on eight goals and five assists in 18 games. Migell Ormsby (Kingston, Jamaica/DeWitt Clinton (NY)) is second with 20 points, including a team-high nine goals, in 16 games, and Jake Keller (Wappingers Falls/Roy C. Ketcham) has registered seven goals and four assists for 18 points in 18 contests. Goalkeeper Connor Young (Bayport/Bayport-Blue Point) has a 0.78 GAA and .800 save percentage in 18 starts. The Red Dragons have outscored their opponents by a 42-14 margin.