Men's Soccer Dispatches Harvard in Overtime; Solabarrieta Becomes Career Assists Leader
Score: UAlbany 3, Harvard 2 (OT)
Location: Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany, N.Y.
Records: UAlbany (2-1-0); Harvard (0-1-0)
Short Story: UAlbany comes back twice to beat Harvard in overtime while Nico Solabarrieta takes over sole possession of first place in career assists in program history.
Coach Gorman: “Tonight’s result ends up being an opportunity for a really positive result for us. We take great positives away from coming back from a goal down twice, and doing it quickly. The way we responded to both of their goals shows good character and good determination and good belief. To get a win is always a positive coming out of any match. We scored a very good goal in the end to get the victory, but I think everybody in the group comes out of the game determined to tighten some things up and to improve and to learn from those small areas that caused us to be in those positions. So, from our standpoint, getting the win is a real positive, and also coming out of it hungry and determined to get better is another positive.”
- Nico Solabarrieta recorded his 16th career assist to become the all-time program leader
- Danny Vitiello earned his 25th career victory, moving into a tie for the all-time program lead
- UAlbany took two shots in the first half
- Harvard was held without a first-half shot
- UAlbany out-shot Harvard 12-4 in the second half and overtime
- Each of UAlbany's first two goals came within three minutes of Harvard taking the lead
The University at Albany men’s soccer program returned to Tom & Mary Casey Stadium on Friday night to take on Harvard in the Crimson’s season opener. After falling behind twice, the Great Danes claimed victory after seeing their second-consecutive game go into extra time.
Scoring opportunities came at a premium in the first half. The first shot of the game didn’t come until the 25th minute when Kaio DaSilva’s attempt was blocked from short range. UAlbany took just one more shot for the duration of the first half, in the 30th minute when Daniel Krutzen pushed his attempt wide of the mark. Additionally, the UAlbany defense held Harvard without a shot during the first half, though the Crimson drew four first-half corner kicks to UAlbany’s one.
In the 57th minute, Nico Solabarrieta drew the ball across the middle from deep in Harvard territory. Hafliði Sigurðarson received the pass and placed his point-blank shot past Harvard goalkeeper Matt Freese, only to see the shot saved on the line by the Crimson defense backing up the play.
Harvard finally recorded a shot in the 59th minute, finding the back of the net off of a draw play across the UAlbany box. The Crimson’s Alex Debayo-Doherty ripped a shot past UAlbany goalkeeper Danny Vitiello into the far side netting.
UAlbany tied the game at one in the 62nd minute when Daniel Krutzen, taking a free kick from deep in Harvard territory. Playing the ball into the middle of the box, Krutzen set up a hard-charging Adam Malekos who placed the ball into the back of the net.
In the 63rd minute, Krutzen took another free kick, setting his sights on the Crimson goal, but pushed his shot just wide of the far post from 25 yards out.
Harvard pulled ahead again in the 68th minute with Sebastian Lindner-Liaw finding the back of the net off a corner kick from Sam Brown. UAlbany quickly responded, when 15 seconds of game-time later, Sigurðarson scored his first career goal for the Great Danes, ripping a shot from distance low past Freese after being set up by Sam Philip and Kaio DaSilva.
“Games tend to open up the longer they go,” said Gorman. “Teams start to take more risks. I thought Harvard came out and had a very good game plan. They were solid defensively, tough to break down, and sat deeper in the first half before they started to extend and look to get forward. And any time a goal is scored the game changes. Once goals start going they tend to continue from there. I thought it was an interesting tactical battle in both segments.”
The game remained scoreless for the duration of regulation, forcing UAlbany into its second consecutive overtime game, and sixth overtime game in its last 10. In their latest match, against Colgate, the Danes gave up a late goal to force overtime and then fell in extra time to the Raiders.
UAlbany and Harvard combined for just one shot in the overtime period. As time wound down in the 100th minute, Solabarrieta and Carlos Clark combined for a give-and-go in the Harvard box, setting up Clark with a clear sight towards the Crimson net. He placed his shot out of reach to Freese’s left to give the Danes their second victory of the season.
“We worked on set pieces all week leading up to this game, so it was disappointing to give up the goals we did tonight,” said Clark. “But we really did well to come back. It’s frustrating to have to come from behind but at the end of the day we found the result, and that’s all that matters. I think it speaks volumes to our resilience, but again, we want to improve and not put ourselves in those holes like we have these first two home games.”
Solabarrieta recorded his 16th career assist on Clark’s game-winning goal, moving into sole possession of first place in program history, breaking a tie with Stephan Hall (2003-06) and former teammate Afonso Pinheiro (2014-17).
“I’m so proud of the team for the win today,” said Solabarrieta. “I think that’s the most important thing from today. Harvard was a good team, and it is very exciting that we won the game even though we conceded two goals. I’m very grateful to all the players who have helped me through this program. Fonzie and I had a lot of success together over three years and he really helped me adapt to the game. Phil Persson and Keith Traut were two guys who really pushed me through when I was a freshman and not doing very well. They believed in me and I’m very grateful for all of them. There have been so many great players in this program that have pushed this program to the next level.”
“It’s a great honor for Nico, and it’s well-deserved,” said Gorman. “Hopefully he continues to extend that lead. I think Krutzen may be breathing down his neck if he’s not careful. We’ve had a number of good players come through the program in my eight years here and there were some good players before that so to have your name at the top of the record books shows that you’ve had a very successful career and that you’ve done some good things. Hopefully he’s not done yet.”
UAlbany goalkeeper Danny Vitiello earned the 25th victory of his career, moving into a tie for first place in program history with Trevor Serraro (1999-2002).
“We have to look at the goals we’re conceding and our set piece defense,” said Gorman. “But those are things that come with repetition and film study. The guys have the determination to get better because they want to win games and they don’t want to have to come from behind or rescue ourselves with goals, so we’re going to keep working at it until we get it right.”
Next: UAlbany will play a second straight home game, on Monday, September 3 against St. Bonaventure, before playing nine of their next 11 on the road.