Menís Soccer Rolls Vermont 4-0
ALBANY, N.Y. – After recording the highest-ranked victory for any home team in school history against #3 Syracuse on Tuesday, the University at Albany men’s soccer team (6-3-2, 1-0-1 AE) returned to conference play Friday hosting the University of Vermont (9-3-1, 1-1-0 AE). The Great Danes defeated the Catamounts 4-0, matching their highest-scoring effort of the season.
“Anytime you win a conference game you’re very, very happy,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “Vermont is an excellent team. There’s a reason they’re ranked as high as they are and have as many wins as they do. Tonight we certainly had the game go our way. We got the early goal and then we started the second half with that quick spurt that really kind of took the air out of it.
The game started out with UAlbany controlling possession. The Great Danes had a golden scoring opportunity three minutes later, when sophomore Nico Solabarrieta crossed the ball in from the right side. The ball was headed away at the last second by the Vermont defense.
Vermont took the first shot of the game in the 13th minute that was blocked by a UAlbany defender. On the ensuing deflection, the ball made its way back towards the Vermont defensive line. Vermont’s starting goalie, Aron Runarsson, came far outside his box to receive the ball. UAlbany junior forward Afonso Pinheiro’s pressure forced a misplaying of the ball by Runarsson, which Pinheiro took advantage of to the tune of an empty net goal in the 14th minute.
The score held 1-0 in UAlbany’s favor through the halftime break, despite some good opportunities for the Catamounts. First, in the 25th minute, a draw from Vermont’s Brian Write from the left side missed its initial target, but was backed up by Bernard Yeboah with a sliding shot that went just wide of the net. Then, in the 35th minute, UAlbany goalkeeper Danny Vitiello make a one-handed save off a shot from Wright.
“Vermont has excellent attacking guys,” Gorman said. “They certainly had their chances.”
But a UAlbany offensive barrage quickly changed that. The Great Danes scored twice in the first four minutes of the second half. First, Solabarrieta scored off of a draw from the right side from junior defender Moosah Khanat and sophomore midfielder Carlos Clark. Next, Clark scored on a give-and-go play from Pinheiro and Solabarrieta.
The two quick goals to push their deficit to three seemed to deflate the Catamounts. UAlbany’s defense held tough against a potent Vermont offense, and Pinheiro added a final insurance goal in the 72nd minute, lobbing the ball over the keeper to the far side of the goal on a play in from senior defender Luke Palmateer.
UAlbany outshot Vermont 6-1 in the second half, and 10-6 for the full game.
After giving up five goals to Boston College on September 20, the Great Danes defense has allowed two goals in four games, and one in their last three. Further, the Danes have not been scored upon in conference play.
“The defense is playing well, they’re getting their chemistry back,” Gorman said. “Guys are starting to play multiple games together after they weren’t able to do so early in the season so they’re getting familiar with each other again. They’re starting to play with confidence, and I think they’re having fun.”
“We’ll take our defenders any day of the week,” Gorman continued.
Vermont entered the game ranked eighth nationally in scoring offense. The Catamounts’ two strikers, Wright (23) and Yeboah (21), rank in a tie for fifth and a tie for eighth, respectively, in total points nationally this season.
With the victory tonight, UAlbany remains undefeated at home, with four wins and one tie.
“We take pride in attempting to protect our home field and to play well at home,” Gorman said. “The more fans we get out the better the atmosphere, and people want to come back. I thought the crowd was great tonight.”
Conference play continues for the Great Danes on the road on Wednesday, October 12 with a trip to New Hampshire. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.