GET THAT BALL — Buffalo State soccer player Erik Tellgren, of Springville, defends a New Paltz player, during his last college soccer game. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
BUFFALO — It was a cold, rainy Saturday evening in early September. The State University of New York College at Buffalo men’s soccer team was taking on D’Youville College, in a non-conference match. With Buffalo State winning 4-0, early in the first half, the visiting Bengals were in control of the match. In the 38th minute, Buffalo State made it 5-0, with another goal just inside the 18, to continue the route. For the 22-year-old communication major who scored, it was more than just another goal. When Erik Tellgren buried a feed from teammate Dylan Ross, it was the finishing touch to a long journey back to the game.
Tellgren, a 2009 Springville-Griffith Institute graduate, recently wrapped up his college soccer career at Buffalo State. His journey to this point was a “tough one to say, the least,” he noted. At S-GI, Tellgren played on the varsity soccer team for three years. He was a captain, during his junior and senior seasons, while being named a first-team division all star as well, during that time. His career statistics of 39 goals, 54 assists and 132 points are still S-GI records.
After graduating from S-GI, Tellgren signed to play soccer at Daemen College. At Daemen, he was a two-year starter at midfield. As a freshman, Tellgren tied for the team-lead in goals, on his way to being named Freshman of the Year.
As a sophomore, Tellgren was the team’s leading-scorer and was named an All-American Midwest Conference Honorable Mention, at season’s end.
“After high school, I definitely wanted to continue playing. I just had to find the right school,” said Tellgren. “Daemen was a good opportunity to play and I was thankful to be able to start 29 of the 33 games, during my two years there.”
After his time at Daemen, Tellgren transferred to Buffalo State, to pursue a degree in communications that Daemen did not offer. After sitting out his first year at Buffalo State, Tellgren was playing in a summer league, preparing for his final season, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
“It was like a 50/50 ball; I just went up to gather it,” Tellgren said, of the play that resulted in injury. “I came down awkwardly and my foot went right; my body went left.”
The injury would require surgery and six months of rehabilitation. The rehab involved “hours upon hours” of physical therapy and “extensive training, to get back in playing shape,” Tellgren said.
“I didn’t want to get down and out,” he explained. “I worked really hard to get back. The first couple months after surgery were really tough. Physical therapy was difficult, but I knew it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. My parents were a big influence on me. They really wanted me to play in college. That was motivation for me; to just show them I could do it. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”
“When I first met him, I thought he was a nice young man, “ said Buffalo State head coach Mark Howlett. “I could tell he really wanted to play one more year. He really wanted to make an impact on the program. He was determined to do that, coming back from his injury.”
Howlett recalled a conversation he had with Tellgren, the day before preseason practice was set to open. The player told his coach he was not sure how his knee was feeling.
“I don’t think I can make all the [fitness] tests. What are your expectations?” Tellgren asked his coach.
“Let’s just see where you fall,” Howlett answered.
The next day, Tellgren finished in the top four, in every test.
“I just saw determination in him and he worked tremendously hard,” Howlett said. He was just so determined to be at the top of his game, and he was.”
KEEP IT AWAY — Buffalo State’s Erik Tellgren defends the ball against Fredonia, during a recent game.
That goal against D’Youville marked Tellgren’s first collegiate goal in 1,072 days, since scoring 2 goals for Daemen, back in 2010. The senior midfielder played in 18 games for the Bengals, starting in the majority of them.
Tellgren scored Buffalo State’s first goal against New Paltz on Oct. 26, that clinched Buffalo State’s first postseason appearance since 2007. Tellgren and the Bengals finished the season 9-9-1, after finishing last year 1-16-1. The turnaround earned Howlett the SUNY Athletic Conference Coach of the Year award, in his first season at the helm of the program.
“He’s a great coach. He definitely knows which buttons to push, to make us work harder,” said Tellgren of his coach. “The system that he had in place worked well for all of us, and it showed.”
Tellgren’s brother Mark, a sophomore, is playing soccer at Erie Community College. Erik Tellgren noted that he and his brother talk frequently about how the other is doing.
“He’s a big impact on me; we kind of feed off each other. He gives me tips; I give him some tips,” he added. “He had a great season at ECC. He’s definitely the key player, over there.”
“Since I graduated, we’ve actually been playing a lot together, in the winter and over the summer,” said Mark Tellgren. “That has really helped my game. Yeah, our games feed off each other. He’s really fast and skillful. I’m just big, strong and can shoot.”
While he has two more years of eligibility, Erik Tellgren played his last collegiate game in a playoff game against Plattsburgh. He said that his time as a student-athlete was not easy, but well worth it.
“It was pretty hectic,” he said. “We had practice from 2 [p.m.] ‘til 4 [p.m.]; I had classes before and after practice, every day. But it was nothing that I couldn’t handle. It was fun. It was an experience and it kept me busy. Every day, I loved going to practice; I loved going to class. Buff State was a good fit for me; I enjoyed the experience a lot.”
Erik Tellgren is the son of Betsy and Scott Tellgren, of Springville.