Menís Soccer Advances To NCAA Third Round, Defeats Boston College 3-0
ALBANY, N.Y. – Playing in and hosting its first ever NCAA tournament game, the #14-seed University at Albany men’s soccer program (13-5-2) defeated Boston College (9-9-3) 3-0 Sunday, avenging a 5-3 regular season loss and advancing to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
“Back when we played them the first time we weren’t fully who we are yet,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “We were still coming together, getting our bodies back used to playing with each other, and they took advantage of us that day. Today, having our group that’s been settled here for the last month, who’s really getting comfortable playing together, I think it really helps a lot.”
The Great Danes scored early, taking a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Senior defender Bernardo Mattos redirected a corner kick from junior defender Moosah Khanat with his head past the Boston College goalkeeper.
“It was really good to get that first goal,” said Mattos. “It gave confidence to the team, and we were able to relax a bit from the pregame emotions.”
UAlbany scored again in the first half, when junior Afonso Pinheiro played a through ball to sophomore Nico Solabarrieta, who made a breaking run past the defensive line resulting in a one-on-one with the Boston College keeper. Solabarrieta placed the ball in the net, giving the Great Danes a 2-0 lead.
“Anytime you score early, it changes the game,” said Gorman. “And to get the second one as well in the first half was key because it meant they had to chase the game.”
In their regular season matchup, UAlbany held a 2-0 lead over Boston College late in the first half as well. But the Eagles scored late in the first half to cut the lead to 2-1, and then scored four goals in the second half to win the game 5-3.
With the memory of that performance looming, the result this afternoon proved more favorable to UAlbany. Although the Great Danes struggled to convert some strong scoring opportunities, and despite Boston College seemingly holding possession in UAlbany’s defensive third for the majority of the second half, the UAlbany was able to seal the victory with a third and final goal in the 83rd minute, when Pinheiro received a pass from Solabarrieta and then chipped it over the Eagles’ keeper to give the Danes a 3-0 lead which would prove to be the final score.
Pinheiro’s three points today vaulted him into first place in single-season scoring in program history with 30, surpassing the previous season high of 28 set in 2008 by Claudio Dantas. Pinheiro has scored 13 goals and recorded four assists this season, while Dantas, in 2008, scored nine goals and recorded 10 assists. Previously this season, Pinheiro had become the program’s all time leader in career points and goals.
Shots were even for the game, with the Eagles holding a small advantage 14-13. UAlbany redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Danny Vitiello recorded his third straight shutout, making seven saves in the process.
“We feel like we’re playing well now,” said Gorman. “We feel like we’ve been playing really well for the last five, six weeks. We’re really happy to see them get the reward today.”
Since losing to Boston College on September 20, the Great Danes are 10-2-1 in thirteen games, and have outscored its opponents 29-7. The stretch has included a win over then #3 Syracuse, two shutouts over Vermont’s top-10 ranked scoring offense, and the program’s first America East title.
“I’ve been here for four years,” said Mattos, “and we’ve been dreaming of this, hosting a game in the NCAA tournament, playing in the tournament for the first time in history, and we finally did it. It’s a big accomplishment for us.”
The Great Danes will play the winner of #3-seed Clemson and South Carolina, which kicks off at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. The third-round game will be played either Saturday, November 26 or Sunday, November 27.