Lockport High School alum Josh Beshaw hasn't been able to catch a break.
A torn ACL wiped out his senior season in high school, which shattered high expectations following his selection to the All-Western New York second team as a junior. A torn labrum mired his freshman year at St. Bonaventure, requiring surgery after the campaign.
After earning "Most Improved Player" with FC Buffalo in 2015, another torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff during his sophomore year proved an even more serious injury, and when his shoulder popped out again last summer, Beshaw was forced to red-shirt his junior season and reconsider his future.
The onslaught of shoulder injuries limited the attacker to just 23 appearances (12 starts) in 57 possible matches for the Bonnies, who have now become Beshaw's former college team. He will spend his final two years of eligibility at Buffalo State College, coached by Mark Howlett.
"Ultimately, I just wasn't having fun at Bonaventure," Beshaw admitted in an interview late last week. "I kept getting injured there and I definitely wasn't playing to my full potential. I simply wasn't happy there, and I just wanted a change."
The decision to transfer from Division I to III wasn't easy for Beshaw.
"It's definitely a 'swallow your pride' type of situation," he admitted. "I worked my entire youth career to play D1. But ultimately I just want to have a good time, get my degree and start enjoying playing soccer, because at Bonaventure I started not loving the game anymore, and I absolutely hated that."
Weighing his local options between Medaille, Fredonia and Buffalo State, Beshaw was swayed toward the Bengals by the character of their head coach.
"Howlett is a great guy, a great coach," said Beshaw, who will study health and wellness at Buffalo State. "He's looking out for your best interest. He's approachable, and I really like that."
"Plus, their returning team is just phenomenal - I couldn't believe it when he showed me the roster of returning players."
[Related: The tightened bond between Howlett, Pavone]
Buffalo State, which had only made the SUNYAC playoffs twice in the 14 seasons predating Howlett's arrival, has advanced to the postseason in three of his first four years at the helm. Last year the Bengals won their first playoff game, a 2-0 quarterfinal win over New Paltz, since 1984.
"I'm very excited about the addition of Josh," Howlett said in a message. "...His experience at the DI level, athleticism and attitude will be a huge benefit to us moving forward. I am looking forward to helping Josh rediscover his love for the game and seeing him flourish in our environment."
Although he's not close with any player on Buffalo State's roster, Beshaw is far from unfamiliar. Bengals midfielder Luke Pavone was his teammate with FC Buffalo, and growing up in Western New York, he's played against Sammy Wasson and Drew Braun on several occasions.
As for the history of shoulder injuries, Beshaw is optimistic that they're now part of his past.
"The doctor told me I just need to learn how to fall better," Beshaw said, with a bit of a chuckle. "He called [the last one] a freak accident. It took four months to recover after my first surgery - now I'm taking two extra months for this one. I'm feeling great, stronger than ever."
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who once separated the AC joint in his shoulder, at email@example.com