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Bill Ziskin

Men's Soccer Blanks Rhode Island 4-0

UAlbany Sports Information   08-29-2017

ALBANY, N.Y. - Playing in front of a home crowd of 2,112, the largest men’s soccer audience in memory, the University at Albany men’s soccer team (1-1-0) put on an offensive display, defeating visiting Rhode Island (1-1-0) by a score of 4-0 in the Great Danes 2017 home opener.

In the season opener, the Great Danes took a 2-0 lead at Marist, but ultimately lost the game 3-2 after allowing three straight goals late in the second half.  Tonight, the Danes once again took a 2-0 lead in similar fashion as they did against the Red Foxes, but this time they were able to hold on and win.

I think you get better with every game,” said head coach Trevor Gorman.  “We didn’t play poorly at Marist.  For 65 minutes we felt very good about our performance and then momentum started going against us.  But we felt we were in a good position and we were in the same position tonight.  We were maybe a little bit more composed, a little bit more conscious of what we needed to focus on, and I thought we did a good job of playing right through to the end.”

Rhode Island applied pressure early in the game, earning two corner kicks in the first five minutes.  UAlbany slowly wrested control of the game from the Rams before breaking through in the 15th minute.  Junior Daniel Krutzen took a free kick from the left side beyond the high corner of the box.  The ball found its way through the sea of bodies near the Rhode Island goal line, where it ricocheted off of senior Afonso Pinheiro in the direction of junior Carlos Clark, who stuck the ball past the Rhode Island keeper, Nils Leifhelm’s, low left side.

The score remained 1-0 for the remainder of the first half.  The two teams combined for a total of three shots through the first 45 minutes.

Just after halftime in the 48th minute, redshirt freshman Owen Fingar took advantage of a mistake by Leifhelm trying to clear a ball played back to him.  Fingar time the clear attempt just right, jumping in front of the ball, blocking it as soon as it left Leifhelm’s foot.  Fingar next gathered the ball and chipped it over Leifhelm’s head into the net.  It was Fingar’s second goal in as many games.

“I think we have a lot of good players,” said Gorman.  “We have a lot of guys who are eager to help the team and contribute.  This time of year especially you have to go deep into your squad.  We’ve only had a couple of weeks together and the energy that a lot of guys brought tonight was very strong.  Hopefully those guys can keep doing it for us because we need more than just the main group.”

Fingar is just one of the players making new and early contributions to the team as Gorman continues to mix and match the lineup.

“The more you see the more you know,” said Gorman.  “We have a lot of new guys on the roster this year and they need to get their feet wet.  We had eight players against Marist playing in their first college soccer game.  The more they play, the more comfortable they are, the more they learn to experience the different situations and possibilities that are out there.  It’s good for them to get those experiences because we know that we’re going to need guys down the line and you never know who you’re going to need where, and to be able to have that versatility is hopefully a positive that will keep going for us.”

Soon after Fingar’s goal, Krutzen connected with Clark on another set piece.  From the outside left box line, Krutzen directed the ball towards the six on the near side, meeting a breaking Clark, who redirected the ball with his head right past Leifhelm to give UAlbany a 3-0 lead.

“Set pieces are important in any game, and Carlos has always loved set pieces,” said Gorman.  “He’s very good at getting on the end of them and he’s quick to the ball.  Tonight, a couple of good services put in there and he did very well.”

“The whole game I just stayed hungry for second balls,” said Clark.  “I thought that was a key for us, staying hungry on set pieces.”

For Krutzen, it was his second assist of the game, going along with his one goal and one assist in the opener against Marist.  Krutzen, who leads the team in scoring with five points through two games, has contributed to four of UAlbany’s six goals this season.

“I feel like we practice a lot on set pieces and I know where the guys are running so I try to get the ball right in the spot, and today it worked twice,” said Krutzen.  “We’re very happy with that.”

“Daniel is very smart with his movement,” said Gorman.  “He plays with his head up.  He’s always aware of what’s going on around him so he’s able to pick the good pass and he’s able to put not only himself but his teammates in very good positions to be successful.  He’s started the season well for us and I’ve also been pleased that he’s taken a more vocal role than last year.  Now, in his second year of the program, he’s talking to his teammates a lot and he’s really shown to be a leader.”

UAlbany added one more goal in the 67th minute.  Senior Moosah Khanat played a long ball over the head of the Rhode Island defense, finding Pinheiro in stride, who had maneuvered his way one step behind the defense.  A couple of touches later to gain his control, Pinheiro chipped the ball over Leifhelm’s head and into the net for his first goal of the season.

UAlbany outshot Rhode Island 8-1 in the second half.  The Great Danes have now won their last four home games by a combined score of 10-0.  Part of that dominance has to do with the way the team responds to the home fans, who turned out in record fashion tonight.

“The turnout tonight was fantastic,” said Gorman.  “It’s what we want every match.  We want people coming out, we want them to be loud, we want them to be excited.  I thought the student turnout tonight was superb.  It was great to see them all here.  I’m glad we were able to give them a good game, give them goals, give them something to be excited about.  And now the biggest thing is we want them to come back Friday night.”

“The crowd was great,” said Clark.  “I love the energy.  It feels great to play in front of my peers, all my friends, and family.  We feed off the crowd when it’s this big and all the energy is coming.”

“It was amazing,” said Krutzen.  “I’ve never seen so many people here.  The energy coming out of it is great.  You get that little extra to play even better and its just amazing.”

With their first victory out of the way, the team will look to refocus for their next game on Friday.

“We just want to get better every day,” said Gorman.  “We want to come out and fine-tune a few things, make sure we’re confident in what’s being asked of us.  George Mason has had a fantastic first weekend.  They’ll be 2-0 coming up here after two good wins, and they’ll be excited for the game as well.  Everything is pointing towards a good Friday night.  If we can get another good crowd out and get that support behind us it makes a big difference.”

The Great Danes will play George Mason the second of three straight home games on Friday, September 1.



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