Menís Soccer Wins First America East Title
ALBANY, N.Y. – For the first time in program history, the University at Albany men’s soccer program (12-5-2, 4-2-1 AE) won the America East title, defeating Hartford (9-10-3, 2-3-2 AE) by a score of 1-0. The tournament championship comes one year after the Great Danes won their first-ever regular season title.
“I’m really happy for, and proud of, all of our players,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “To win the America East championship was a goal for a long time and to see them rewarded for all the hard work is fantastic.”
To reach this point, UAlbany defeated Vermont 2-0 at home in the semifinal round. The Danes had earned a first-round bye after defeating Binghamton on the final day of the regular season, securing the second overall seed in the tournament. Hartford entered the tournament with the fifth seed, and had to win two games on the road, against New Hampshire in the quarterfinals and then against top overall seed Stony Brook in the semifinals.
The Great Danes opened their conference schedule this season at Hartford, playing the Hawks to a 0-0, double-overtime draw.
The rematch started out largely the same as did the first meeting. The game remained scoreless through the first half. UAlbany held a 6-1 advantage in shots over Hartford, but was unable to find the back of the net. Further, the Danes took six corner kicks to the Hawks’ two.
The scoreless tie remained through almost the entire second half. As the clock wound down, it looked as though these two opponents were headed to a second consecutive overtime bout. But in the 89th minute, junior forward Afonso Pinheiro drew a foul in the Hartford box, earning a penalty kick.
Pinherio placed the ball past the Hartford keeper inside the right post giving the Great Danes a 1-0 lead, which would serve to be the final score for the game.
“Hartford were difficult to break down but our guys stayed focused and kept going until they finally found the goal,” said Gorman.
For the game, the Great Danes out-shot the Hawks by a 19-2 margin, keeping the pressure on the Hartford defense and goalkeeper, the latter of whom made eight saves. UAlbany also took 12 corner kicks to Hartford’s four.
Senior defender Bernardo Mattos was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, leading a defense that did not allow a goal through its two tournament games. In total, the Great Dane defense has let up only seven goals in 12 games since allowing five at Boston College on September 20.
With the victory, the Great Danes earn the America East’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
“We look forward to finding out the NCAA draw tomorrow and preparing for another game,” said Gorman.
The NCAA selection show is scheduled for Monday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m., at which time the Great Danes will learn their fate. Other America East schools hoping for an at-large bid include Stony Brook, Vermont, and New Hampshire.