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Potsdam Heads To Cortland For Lax Playoffs

POTSDAM, N.Y.-Last season, the SUNY Potsdam men's lacrosse team (7-3, 5-1 SUNYAC East) appeared to be destined for the playoffs as the Bears opened the 2020 season with a 4-1 record. As with most teams last spring, the pandemic cut the campaign short. Potsdam entered 2021 with unfinished business. After falling in their first two contests, Potsdam won seven of its last eight games to reach the postseason. The Bears, the second seed in the SUNYAC East, will face Western top-seed SUNY Cortland on the road tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m.

Potsdam finished the regular season with a 7-3 mark and a 5-1 record in SUNYAC East play. The Bears swept Plattsburgh State and SUNY New Paltz in home-and-home series and split with Oneonta State, including the classic, double-overtime 14-13 win against the Red Dragons on April 23.

Potsdam has the third best offense in the SUNYAC, averaging 12.50 goals-per-game. Senior captain and All-SUNYAC midfielder Josh Huiatt (Lisbon, N.Y./Hugh C. Williams) led the charge with another career year. He's scored 28 goals and assisted on 25 others for 53 points to lead the SUNYAC again. He had a career-high 11 points in the win over Oneonta and now ranks fourth in program history in scoring. Junior attackman Cam Talcott (Potsdam, N.Y./Potsdam) also had breakout year with 27 goals and eight assists for 35 points. Talcott ranks third in the conference in goals and just one behind Huiatt. Junior transfer Alex Burley (Canandaigua, N.Y./Canandaigua) has made an immediate impact for the Bears, scoring 19 goals and recording three assists for 22 points. Sophomore midfielder Peyton Walsh (Ballston Spa, N.Y./Ballston Spa) has 20 points on 11 goals and nine assists and has been clutch in extra-man opportunities, with a conference-leading four tallies. Junior assistant captain Henry Reber (Canandaigua, N.Y./Canandaigua) has emerged as a key playmaker with 14 assists to go with five goals for 19 points. Junior midfielder Alec Miller (Williamsville, N.Y./Williamsville South) (7g, 9a) and freshman attackman Cobie Cree (Akwesasne, N.Y./Salmon River) (9g, 3a) have also put up impressive numbers when Potsdam has needed them most.

Defensively, Potsdam has allowed 9.20 goals-per-game, the fourth best average in the conference. Junior assistant captain Trent Woodroe (North Tonawanda, N.Y./North Tonawanda), sophomore Ryan Derion (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport) and senior Dominic Butera (Hamburg, N.Y./St. Francis) have anchored the Bears' defense. Woodroe has collected 25 ground balls and caused seven turnovers, in addition to taking 31 faceoffs. Derion's 15 caused turnovers are third best in the SUNYAC. Butera is ninth in the conference in caused turnovers with 10 and has collected 17 ground balls. Potsdam has also received critical defensive contributions from junior defender Ethan Clark (Seven Valley, Pa./Spring Grove), junior long-stick midfielder Bryley Frederick (Clayton, N.Y./Thousand Islands) and sophomore defender Blaze Benedict (Akwesasne, N.Y./Salmon River). Clark is fifth in the SUNYAC with 12 caused turnovers and has also picked up 21 ground balls. Frederick is second on the team with 26 ground balls and has caused five turnovers and Benedict has 18 ground balls and five caused turnovers.

In goal, sophomore Ben Fuchs (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Calvary Christian) has been solid, posting a 5-3 record, a 9.87 goals-against-average and a .565 save percentage. Freshman Liam O'Neil (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool) has been a strong backup for Fuchs, going 2-0 with a 5.60 G.A.A. and a .656 save percentage in limited action.

Junior faceoff specialist Brandon Smith (Philadelphia, N.Y./Indian River) has been successful in the circle this spring. Smith has won 94 of his 178 faceoff attempts for a .528 winning percentage, second best on the conference.

In SUNY Cortland, Potsdam faces a familiar opponent. The two teams met in a nonconference battle to open the season on March 16, with the Red Dragons claiming a 14-6 win.

Cortland is 8-3 this spring, with a 5-1 mark in the SUNYAC's Western Division. They are the conference's top offense, averaging 13.91 goals-per-game. Dante Yacavone leads the Red Dragon scorers with 46 points on 29 goals and 17 assists. Zak Jones has 27 goals and eight assists for 35 points. Pat Doyen has 20 points on 16 goals and 14 assists and Colton Smith has contributed 26 points on 16 goals and 10 helpers. Not surprisingly, Cortland has the stingiest defense in the SUNYAC, allowing just 8.05 goals-a-game this season. Marc Esposito has started every game between the sticks for Cortland, posting a SUNYAC-best 7.63 G.A.A. and a .601 save percentage. The Red Dragons also have the best faceoff man in the conference in Brian Williams. Williams has won 131 of his 203 chances for a .645 winning percentage.

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