POTSDAM — The unbeaten Plattsburgh State men’s soccer team opened its SUNY Athletic Conference season Saturday and escaped Potsdam with a 1-0 victory.
Jason Baker’s first goal of the season, with 5:53 gone in the second half, provided the margin of difference. Joe Aratari sent the ball back to Baker, who was able to get it past Bears’ keeper Jake Gyder.
“Baker started for us today as a central defender,” said Plattsburgh coach Chris Waterbury. “He was winning a lot of head balls and we moved him to midfield at halftime. There was a cross in the box and Aratari was in deep but couldn’t turn to shoot. He laid the ball back to the top of the 18 to Baker.
“Baker scored the game-winning goal, but he played well in addition to scoring.”
Cardinals’ keeper Andy Heighington preserved the win seven minutes later when he made a save on Mike Jackson’s header.
“Actually, we played a pretty good game,” said Waterbury. “We possessed the ball well, moved the ball well and did some good things. Potsdam came in with a sound defensive game plan. They were able to keep their defensive shape and we didn’t have a ton of scoring chances.
“They were able to stay in the game a long time because of their defense.”
Plattsburgh (9-0, 1-0) held a 19-11 advantage in shots and both goalies — Heighington and Gyder — finished with four saves.
“We were able to limit their scoring chances,” said Waterbury. “That’s because we did a great job of possessing the ball, especially in the second half.”
The Cardinals have recorded five shutouts in their first nine games. The loss dropped the Bears to 0-1 in the conference and 2-6 overall.
“No question, it was a good win for us,” said Waterbury. “There is so little margin of error in the conference. It was a very important win for us.”
There was concern, however, for the Cardinals. Forward Fabian Chaparro was injured early in the contest and the extent of his injury has yet to be determined.
Plattsburgh returns home for a 7 p.m. non-conference contest with Utica College on Tuesday at the Field House Soccer Complex.
Plattsburgh 1, Potsdam 0
Plattsburgh 0 1 — 1
Potsdam 0 0 — 0
1, PSU, Baker, 5:53.
Plattsburgh 19, Potsdam 11.
Saves: Heighington, PSU, 4. Gyder, Pots, 4.