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The 2016 University at Albany men’s soccer team season may be over with a 3-1 loss at the hands of #3 Clemson on Sunday Night, but this historic season will be one that the UAlbany players, coaches, and passionate fans will not soon forget.

“Of course we’re disappointed with the result,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “Congratulations to Clemson – they’re an outstanding team.”

“I felt it was an even match, unfortunately, a few key moments didn’t go our way.”

Clemson Senior Forward Austen Burnikel broke the scoring open with a 45th minute goal past UAlbany goalkeeper Danny Vitiello right before the end of the first half from six yards out. Oliver Shannon set up the pass to the center of the field just six yards out and Burnikel delivered to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes into the second half, Carlos Clark tied the game with a goal from 12 yards out to give the Great Danes momentum, playing on the road vs #3 seed Clemson.

Defensive stops on both sides kept the game tied up at 1 goal a piece until the 81st minute when Clemson Junior Forward Diego Campos connected with Austen Burnikel on a header off the corner kick for his second goal of the game and a 2-1 lead for the Tigers.

Just moments later with another corner kick opportunity, Senior Midfielder Alex Happi found the back of the net scoring on a rebound off the crossbar, to extend the lead to 3-1.

Ultimately, UAlbany could not recover and just like that the magical season was over.

Clemson overpowered UAlbany with their offensive attack all night long, outshooting the Great Danes 15-6, forcing Great Danes goalkeeper Danny Vitiello into five saves on the day compared to just one for Sophomore Clemson goalie Ximo Miralles.

The Great Danes came into the 2016 campaign with unfinished business, losing to Binghamton in the semifinals of the 2015 America East Championship after capturing their first ever regular season title in program history.

Improving on the disappointing end to the 2015 season, the Great Danes came into 2016 with a chip on their shoulder and were voted as the preseason favorite to win the America East title, returning nine starters from last year’s squad. To put it simply, the Great Danes delivered.

UAlbany won their first ever America East regular season title with a 1-0 win over Hartford back on November 13th. This team also played in, hosted, and won their first-ever NCAA Tournament Game with a 3-0 win over Boston College at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium before ultimately falling to Clemson in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Great Danes also came away with arguably their biggest regular season win in program history when they took the college soccer world by storm, upsetting then ranked #3 Syracuse 2-1 when Jonathan Interiano broke the 1-1 tie with a goal in the 75th minute, his first of the season. It was the highest ranked opponent the Great Danes had ever beaten at home.

Junior Forward Afonso Pinheiro built on his illustrious career as a member of the UAlbany Men’s Soccer team, becoming the all-time leader in goals and points scored in program history as well as the all-time single season leader in points.

The Great Danes will say goodbye to nine senior players including Senior Luke Palmateer, who played in more games in his career than any Great Dane in program history as well as Senior Defender Bernardo Mattos, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament after leading a UAlbany defense that didn’t allow a goal in its two AE tournament games.


Rob "Lep" Lepelstat is the sports editor of the Albany Student Press. Along with the ASP, Lep works as Vice President of ATV and sports director for WCDB. He's also had internships at CBS/ Westwood One Sports, ABC Television in NYC, ESPN Radio Albany, etc.

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