Men's Soccer Drops UMBC 2-0
ALBANY, N.Y. - The University at Albany men’s soccer team (8-3-2, 3-0-1 AE) successfully defended its home field Saturday night, defeating conference opponent UMBC (4-5-3, 0-4-0 AE) by a score of 2-0. UAlbany is now undefeated in its last six matches, accumulating five wins and one tie over that timespan.
Further, UAlbany remains undefeated this year both at home and in conference play.
“It’s important to win your home games,” said head coach Trevor Gorman, “and we’re fortunate to have a good home-field advantage, to have great crowds coming out to support us. Our guys like playing here, we play with good energy we play with good commitment, and tonight was a very good win against a talented UMBC team. They’re a good team and they gave us everything we could handle tonight.”
“It was a bit of a hard-fought win in the end,” said senior defender Luke Palmateer, who was bleeding slightly from a scratch he sustained right above his nose during the game. “I thought we played really well but we had to grind out that sort of performance and we got the three points, that’s what matters.”
“In the end I was pleased that we stuck to it,” said Gorman. “We kept doing what we needed to do and we started to create more and more chances there in the second half, and got the breakthrough on the one goal and then we always felt like we could get a second one. So, happy with the way it played out, good conference win tonight.”
The Great Danes seemed to control play for most of the first half, though their efforts bore not fruit as far as goals are concerned, with score knotted 0-0 at halftime. UAlbany’s first chance to score came quickly, when freshman defender Brynjar Steinþórsson ripped a shot from outside the box that sailed over the crossbar. Steinþórsson had another chance five minutes later that was saved by UMBC goalkeeper, Billy Heavner. UMBC took its first shot in the 10th minute, missing the UAlbany net wide.
The UAlbany offense kicked things into high gear in the second half, ultimately outshooting the Retrievers by a margin of 14-4, and 19-7 for the full game. UAlbany’s first barrage came in six minutes into the second half, when junior forward Afonso Pinheiro ripped a shot on net that was deflected out of bounds by Heavner. On the ensuing corner kick by sophomore defender Daniel Krutzen, Steinþórsson took a shot from distance that missed just high over the crossbar.
In the 71st minute, Krutzen took a shot that was saved out of bounds by Heavner. Junior defender Moosah Khanat took the ensuing corner kick, setting up a header by Carlos Clark that was deflected wide. Khanat’s next corner set up a shot by Pinheiro that was once again blocked out of bounds. Krutzen took the third corner kick of this sequence, setting up Palmateer for a header that slipped past Heavner for UAlbany’s first score. The entire sequence lasted about 90 seconds.
UAlbany kept up the offensive pressure for the remainder of the game, not allowing UMBC a real chance to tally an equalizer. The Retrievers did seem to find success on a few occasions in transition plays up their left offensive side, but the Great Dane defense did not allow anything to come of those chances.
In the 85th minute, sophomore forward Nico Solabarrieta scored UAlbany’s second goal of the night. He was set up on a play started by Clark, who flicked the ball to senior midfielder Leo Melgar, who skipped the ball to the opposite field to Solabarrieta, who placed the ball in the far left side netting from outside the UMBC box. Melgar had just re-entered the game as a substitute the minute before.
Solabarrieta has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.
The Great Danes would have scored a third goal, on a precisely placed header by Melgar, if not for a spectacular one-handed save by Heavener to keep the UMBC deficit at two.
By now, the game had become somewhat chippy as emotions flared between the two teams. A small skirmish broke out in the 89th minute that was quickly diffused by the officiating crew. One yellow card each was assessed to the UAlbany and UMBC side in the aftermath.
“You just try to keep the emotions under control,” said Gorman. “The later you get in the season the more important the games get. And teams want to win. It’s going to get physical, going to get combative at times, and you have you be able to not back down from any challenge and to remain strong but also to keep an idea of what’s going on, stay in control, and see things out.”
“Building off this, we have three wins in the conference and that’s kind of a confidence boost for everyone,” said Palmateer. “I don’t think its something where we tell the boys to stay calm and composed, it’s more we know what to do now, and just keep going through.”
Since letting up five goals to Boston College on September 20, the Great Dane defense has allowed three goals in six games.
“I think we’re really settled down with the players that we have,” said Palmateer. “We had a few injuries in the beginning of the season. And just the communication; we’re all best friends off the field and it translates on the field as well.”
“I think everybody feeds off of each other,” said Gorman. “I think when the attacking players are creating chances the defenders get energized. When the defenders are playing well, limiting the opponent, then the attackers get energized. And when the midfielders are winning their battles then it feeds everyone else. So it’s a collective team effort. We talk about playing together and being confident in who you are. And if everyone is doing their part, everybody feeds off that energy, and that’s when you get a total team product.”
The Great Danes have a week off before hosting conference opponent Stony Brook on Saturday, October 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
“It’s just about maximizing the time,” said Gorman. “I think rest is valuable and we love playing games we love when the games come thick and fast but when you do get a period for a little bit of extended rest you want to take advantage of it. You want to be sure going into the next game that the bodies are as healthy as they can possibly be or as recovered as they can possibly be, or as sharp, so we’ll balance things in training this week with rest and recovery but also with making sure we get after it a little bit and get sharp and are hungry going into what’s going to be a really good battle on Saturday night with Stony Brook.”