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Mighty Oaks Compete in Conference Tournaments

Cross country teams win HVIAC championships

The men's and women's cross country teams swept the competition at the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) Cross Country Championship races Oct. 29 at the Hudson Valley Sportsdome.

In the women's race, junior Marissa Lathrop led seven Mighty Oaks in the top 10. Lathrop bested a field of 51 with a 5-kilometer time of 21:33, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Culinary Institute of America sophomore Alyssa Byndas (21:45) to earn her first individual title, after taking second in 2015 and fourth in 2016.

ESF freshmen Erin Cocca (22:15), Emily Booth (22:32), and Alexi Desiseroth (22:43) finished in fourth through sixth and sophomore Eden Zickler (22:58) crossed in eighth to clinch the second title in three years for the Mighty Oaks (24 points). ESF had nine runners finish in the top 15 to earn medalist honors.

In the men's race, led by overall individual champion Mark McClenahan, the Mighty Oaks posted a perfect score. The Mighty Oaks had eight runners in the top 10 with 12 earning medalist honors to win the team title for the third straight season.

Despite a steady rain throughout the race, freshman McClenahan covered the 8-kilometer course in 28:22 to win the individual title and was named Runner of the Year in post-race ceremonies. Following McClenahan were freshmen Tom Keenan (28:36) and Anders Proft (28:50) and juniors Ethan Appelgren (28:57) and Peter Rawinski (29:36) to complete the perfect score of 15 as just 1:14 separated the Mighty Oaks first and fifth runners.

Head Coach Mike Melfi was named the HVIAC Men's Cross County Coach of the Year.

Both teams will compete at the USCAA Cross Country Championships, Nov. 10 in Norfolk, Virginia.

An hour and a half up the thruway in Albany, the women's soccer defended its conference title defeating Albany Pharmacy, 2-0. The Mighty Oaks came into the tournament as the number one seed and a perfect league season record to capture its second straight league title.

ESF defeated number four seed King's, 4-0, in the first semifinal and Albany Pharmacy seized a 7-2 win over the three seed Pratt Institute, to set up a rubber match meeting (The Panthers defeated ESF in a shootout, 5-4, in 2015 before ESF snapped the Panthers' three-year title run with a 2-1 victory last season.)

Despite the Mighty Oaks leading 13-1 in shots over the opening 45 minutes, the championship game remained scoreless at intermission. Five minutes into the second stanza, the Mighty Oaks broke through on senior Lauren Archer's 14th goal of the season, which stood up as the game-winner. Archer would feed senior Shannon Gordnier for an insurance tally seven minutes later and the Oaks continued to control the game finishing with a 25-4 shot advantage en route to their second title after capturing their first regular season title.

For her efforts in the midfield helping to control play, ESF senior Anna Bishop was named Tournament MVP.

In the men's soccer tournament, ESF again had the number one seed and a perfect league record but couldn't finish off Albany Pharmacy in the championship game, losing to the Panthers in penalty kicks.

In the semifinals, the Mighty Oaks downed the College of New Rochelle, 2-1, to setup the showdown against Albany Pharmacy. Albany Pharmacy bypassed number three seed Berkeley College in a PK shootout to propel the Panthers to their ninth finals appearance in 10 years.

In the title game that kicked off at 3 p.m. in a steady rain, the Mighty Oaks expectedly took control from the outset, held an 11-3 edge in shots, but Panthers goal keeper senior Matt Houlihan stood on his head again making eight first-half saves to preserve a scoreless deadlock at halftime.

The second stanza saw the Panthers find their legs and gained a 6-1 edge in corners and a slight 7-6 edge in shots, but neither team could find the back of the net and both teams managed only one shot apiece in the overtime sessions as the game finished a 0-0 stalemate and headed to a shootout to determine a champion.

It was Houlihan who lived up to the task again, making three saves on four of ESF's shooters as the Panthers converted two penalty shoots to clinch the shootout, 2-0.

With the conference championship win, the women's soccer team earns an automatic bid to the USCAA National Soccer Championships, Nov. 8-11 in Norfolk, Virginia. The women finish the 2017 season with an 11-2 record. The men's team finishes the season with a 12-5 record and hope to receive an at-large bid to the USCAA tournament.