MARCY, N.Y. – The Wildcats (0-4) looked poised to grab their first win of the season Thursday night, heading into the fourth period knotted at 4-4 with the visiting Mitchell College Mariners (2-1). But after matching and even outplaying their opponents for three solid quarters, the Wildcats watched as the visitors exploded for four goals in the final period, taking the game by a score of 8 to 4.
Snowfall persisted from the beginning of the game through the final horn, but the Wildcats seemed at home in the conditions early on, as Karriem Rhode (Harlem, N.Y. / Manhatten Center) scored his first career goal less than seven minutes into the game, giving SUNYIT a 1-0 lead.
Mitchell proceeded to answer with goals by David Klapp and Dan DiGioia to end the first quarter up 2-1.
In the second quarter the Wildcats opened things up, as Jon Eguren (Vitoria, Spain / Cicero-North Syracuse) converted on a fantastic pass from the behind the goal by Denver Babowicz (Marcy, N.Y. / Holland Patent).
SUNYIT would then take the lead a few minutes later as Babowicz netted his second goal of the season, assisted by Brett Gifford (Cazenovia, N.Y. / Cazenovia). Gifford made a great play to start the break that led to the goal, causing a turnover and scooping up the groundball. Gifford had a monster game on defense, picking up 10 groundballs (second only to SUNYIT faceoff man Tyler Serva (Chenango Forks, N.Y. / Chenango Forks), who had 12) and causing 4 turnovers.
Gifford even appeared to have scored a goal late in the second half but it was waived off because of an offsides violation. The play certainly seemed to swing the momentum, as not long after the Mariners would begin their fourth-period onslaught.
Among other reasons, Thursday night's loss was particularly painful as the Wildcats squandered a spectacular game by goalie Jeffrey Melnik (Yonkers, N.Y. / Stepinac). The sophomore keeper registered an eye-popping 16 saves on the game, and made a number of good decisions in helping the Wildcats to a 22 for 28 performance on clear attempts.
SUNYIT will look for better luck on the road, as they travel to Shenandoah this Sunday, March 10th. Game time is set for 1:00 pm.