Men's Soccer Pulls Away From George Mason Late, 3-1
ALBANY, N.Y. – Playing in the second of three consecutive home games, the University at Albany men’s soccer team (2-1-0) defeated George Mason (2-1-0) with a barrage of second half goals capping off a tightly contested game by a final score of 3-1.
“I thought we did a good job of maintain possession of the ball,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “Our movement off the ball was good. They were pinned into their end a bit, which I think was partially by design, coming on the road, but also partially due to the movement we had going. We had some great chances early in the game that didn’t go in for us, and then it starts to stretch and stay scoreless, and then you just have to make sure you keep going and you don’t panic and don’t try to do too much. I thought we did a good job of that in the second half.”
George Mason entered the game having just knocked off #19 Coastal Carolina. UAlbany was riding high after trouncing Rhode Island in their home opener 4-0.
For most of the first half, UAlbany kept the ball in George Mason territory. Each time the Patriots threatened, the Great Danes pieced together a quick counterattack that kept pressure on the George Mason defense.
Though UAlbany kept possession away for much of the half, the teams entered halftime in a scoreless deadlock. Each team had recorded three shots, and neither team had drawn a corner kick.
“Our message at halftime was simple,” said Gorman. “Let’s keep the tempo high, let’s keep playing, let’s keep the ball, let’s keep moving, let’s keep helping each other. Chances are going to come and let’s believe that when they do we will take them.”
The beginning of the second half unfolded much in the same way as the first, with the two teams unable to break through the other’s defense and capitalize on scoring opportunities. Following a pair of headers that just missed, sophomore Brynjar Steinþórsson found the back of the net on his third header in quick succession, breaking the 0-0 tie in the 66th minute. Once again, junior Daniel Krutzen provided the spark for the goal, placing his corner kick perfectly for Steinþórsson to put away. For Steinþórsson, it was his first career goal.
“There’s a reason why set pieces, corner kicks and free kicks, are so dangerous,” said Gorman. “Whenever you get down near the goal things get created, things happen. And when you start to get a number of them in succession, like we did with those corner kicks, it’s hard for the defending team to resist over and over again. It’s a big advantage for the attacking team. I thought our movement on those three corner kicks was very good. The guys kept changing up, making it difficult for them to be marked, and then Daniel put a fantastic ball in and it was a really good header.”
“When we have one of the best left foots in the conference, all you have to do is be where you’re supposed to be,” said Steinþórsson. “Eventually it goes in, and luckily for me I was on the end of it.”
George Mason responded quickly on a field-switching long ball played over the top of the Great Dane defense. Graydon Hester found Henning Dirks making a run down the far side of the field. Dirks had found his way behind the Great Dane defense and was all alone as he ran onto the ball and placed it past UAlbany goalkeeper Danny Vitiello (2-0-0), whose bid for a fifth-consecutive home shutout was ended in the 69th minute.
“I thought we did a good job getting back on top of the game and really taking it to them and creating a lot of chances that ultimately broke through,” said Gorman.
Dirks’ goal was only the second the Great Danes have given up at home in their last six games, dating back to the 2016 regular season finale against Binghamton. Since then, UAlbany has outscored visiting teams 18-2.
The game remained tied 1-1 for the next 15 minutes, until redshirt-senior defender Jeff Medina played a short through ball from the top of George Mason’s box to senior forward Afonso Pinheiro, who settled the ball and placed his shot to the far side net. Medina is the second defender in as many games to set up Pinheiro for a goal, following senior Moosah Khanat during the Rhode Island game.
“For us we talked a lot about keep pushing no matter the adversity,” said Pinheiro. “We knew eventually we would find the back of the net. For us it was just to have the determination to keep going no matter what. I was telling myself just ‘keep going, keep going’, and I knew if I had that deamination that I would eventually find that success.”
About a minute and a half of game time later, the Great Danes drew a penalty kick. Pinheiro successfully converted, giving UAlbany a 3-1 lead, which would prove to be the final score.
UAlbany out-shot George Mason 14-2 in the second half, and 17-5 for the game. The Great Danes also drew six second half corner kicks to the Patriots’ two.
UAlbany returns to action on Tuesday, September 5 against Boston University in the Danes’ third consecutive home game.
“We’ve had this home stand in our minds, and now that we’re two-thirds of the way through it we want to finish it off well,” said Gorman.