Danes Win Dogfight of the Ages
Albany, NY– You can stop biting your nails now.
In a first round playoff match that was nip and tuck from start to finish, the UAlbany Men’s Soccer team knocked off University of Maryland, Baltimore County in a penalty shootout Saturday, advancing to the America East Semifinals.
“We’re thrilled to advance and get a chance to move on in the America East tournament,” said UAlbany head coach Trevor Gorman. “I thought it was a hard-fought game between two good teams.”
90 minutes of regulation time wasn’t enough to find a victor in the match, and neither were the two overtime periods. After 120 minutes, with the teams knotted at one goal apiece, the Danes outscored UMBC 4-2 in penalty kicks to earn the win at Casey Stadium.
It didn’t take long for the Danes to jump out in front in the match, as the familiar give-and-go play between Daniel Krutzen and Carlos Clark worked to perfection. Krutzen would polish the play off, firing his fourth goal of the year into the UMBC net. He continues to be a key cog in the balanced UAlbany attack.
Once UAlbany had the lead, it was time for Danny Vitiello, the dominant Dane goalkeeper, to go to work. Coming into Saturday’s contest, Vitiello and the stout Dane defense hadn’t conceded a goal in four consecutive matches. UMBC tested Vitiello all day long, firing 14 shots in his direction through regulation and overtime. Vitiello and the Danes stood tall until Sammy Kahsai finally put one home for UMBC, tying the score in the 83rd minute.
In the two overtime periods, neither team was able to find the back of the net, but momentum quickly shifted. After allowing the late goal, the Danes were visibly a step slower in the first overtime, knowing that they had just let their biggest win of the season slip through their fingers.
Clearly, after the first overtime, head coach Trevor Gorman said something to his team that riled them up. The Danes came out in the second overtime playing like their pants were on fire, outshooting UMBC 5-1. Still, UAlbany’s suddenly rejuvenated attack wasn’t enough to score a decisive second goal, and the game moved to a penalty kick shootout.
It’s safe to say that the momentum UAlbany built in the second overtime carried over into the PK shootout, as they slotted home four of their five attempts to advance to the conference semifinals. Because regular season matches can end in a tie, Saturday’s shootout was the first of the season for the Danes.
UAlbany, the fourth seeded team in the conference playoffs, is no stranger to winning with their season on the line. However, after capturing the America East crown in 2016, the team has quite a rocky path to repeating as champions this season. The next stop on the Danes path is Burlington, where they have a date with top-seeded Vermont in the America East semifinals. The Danes will have a chance to exact a little intersport revenge, as it was Vermont that knocked UAlbany’s Men’s Basketball team out of the 2017 America East Tournament. UAlbany will be looking to do the same to the Catamounts, this time on the soccer pitch.
UAlbany and Vermont with kick off their semifinal match at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night, with the winner advancing to the America East championship game on Sunday.