Menís Soccer To Host America East Final After Defeating Vermont
ALBANY, N.Y. – For the first time in program history, the University at Albany men’s soccer team (11-5-2, 4-2-1 AE) will play in an America East championship game. The Great Danes punched their ticket after shutting out Vermont (13-6-1, 4-3-0 AE) for the second straight match this season 2-0. What’s more, UAlbany will host the championship game, after Hartford upset top overall seed Stony Brook.
“Every game that we play with Vermont is really difficult,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “A lot of times the first goal can be important, and we’ve gotten that in the last few games against them.”
When these two teams met earlier this season, the Great Danes put a drubbing on the visiting Catamounts, winning 4-0. The result was surprising in that Vermont featured one of the most potent attacking duos in the country.
“The last time we played them was five, five and a half weeks ago,” said Gorman, “and you’re almost a different team after that long goes by. So we did review a couple of things, we reminded ourselves of their tendencies and we got ourselves ready to play.”
The rematch, also a home game for UAlbany, was expected to be tighter. Yet the Great Danes still managed to neutralize Vermont’s strikers to the tune of another shutout.
“Our defenders are good players, the midfielders in front of them are good players, and our guys like a challenge,” said Gorman. “I think every time we’ve played Vermont they’ve had tremendous strikers and our guys look forward that. They embrace the challenge and they want to play against some of the top strikers in the country and I think Vermont’s strikers are some of the best in the country. I thought they did a very good job tonight of staying together and staying near their men and of not letting them get on the wrong side.”
The Great Danes have now outscored their opponents 25-7 in 11 games since letting up five goals against Boston College on September 20.
UAlbany’s first goal came in the 29th minute after senior defender Bernardo Mattos played a long ball from behind the midfield line to junior Afonso Pinheiro making a run in UAlbany’s attacking third. Pinheiro broke through the defense and hit a long chip shot over the Vermont goalkeeper and into the net.
The score remained 1-0 at halftime. UAlbany scored its second and final goal in the 66th minute, when sophomore midfielder Carlos Clark dribbled the ball parallel with the 18 from the left side towards the middle, before ripping a shot that found the lower right side of the net.
“I thought Carlos’ goal was excellent,” said Gorman. “He’s a strong, powerful player, and in the second half he really got started running at guys. And when he gets running at you and he’s dribbling and taking guys on it’s a really good for us. The strike was excellent and the finish was very good.”
Play throughout the game was fairly even, though UAlbany did find times to press its advantage and the Great Dane defense effectively stifled any opportunity Vermont had to break through. UAlbany did manage to out-shoot Vermont 14-13 for the game, and 10-7 in the second half. The Great Danes also earned four corner kicks in each half, to Vermont’s four total for the game.
The Great Danes will now face Hartford, who defeated top seed Stony Brook 2-1. It was the second consecutive road game Hartford won in the tournament to continue advancing, having previously defeated New Hampshire in the quarterfinals. The last time the Hawks played the Great Danes, the teams tied 0-0 in double overtime on UAlbany’s home field to open this year’s conference schedule.
The America East championship game is scheduled for Sunday, November 13 at 2:00 p.m. at Casey Stadium. The game will air on ESPN3 and America East TV.