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IMPRESSIVE VICTORIES FOR MEN’S SOCCER

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Collegiate men’s soccer teams beware, because the University at Albany means business. The Great Danes had a great week, with impressive victories at home over Syracuse and Vermont.

“I think they are having fun. We tell the guys before every game you have to have fun. Have fun when you’re playing, have to put a smile on your face,” said UAlbany head coach Trevor Gorman after the Vermont game Friday.

On Tueday night UAlbany met Syracuse, who came into the game as the third highest ranked men’s soccer team in the NSCAA, and were ranked among the top 20 in several NCAA statics board. It was UAlbany who made the better start however: in only the third minute Nico Solabarrieta stole the ball from a Syracuse defender on the end line and delivered a cross that was punched away by Orange goalkeeper Hendrik Hilbert, but the ball fell right to Leo Melgar who hit an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net to give UAlbany a shock lead. UAlbany kept Hilbert busy with the Syracuse goalkeeper having to twice make last-ditch saves with his feet.

As the half wore on Syracuse began to show why they were ranked as high as they were despite missing star player Miles Robinson, who had received a called up to the United States under-20 national soccer team. With 13 minutes left in the first half Johannes Pieles’s free-kick from 20 yards out flew just over the goal. Then a minute later Pieles’s cross found Sergio Camargo, but the latter’s shot from point blank range was only just kept out but Great Danes goalkeeper Lucas Vallilo. Vallilo had to be on his toes again with seven minutes left in the half as he blocked Syracuse’s top soccer Chris Nanco on a breakaway.

From the resulting corner kick Syracuse would equalize, the initial effort came back off the woodwork, then Orange defender Kamal Miller’s shot was blocked off the line by a UAlbany player, but the ball fell right back to Miller who made no mistake from the second attempt for his first goal of the season.

The game turned physical towards the end with neither side willing to give up an inch and three yellow cards were issued. With 15 minutes to go UAlbany’s captain Keith Traut crossed the ball into a crowd of players, where it somehow was picked up by substitute Jonathan Interiano who scored the game winner from close range. Interiano, a senior, had missed more than half the season with injury but his goal turn to be the game winner.

“We had guys who were switched ‘on’, they were reacting to second balls, you need the balls to drop your way in any game,” said UAlbany head coach Trevor Gorman after the game. “It’s a nice win, it reaffirms a lot of beliefs that we have… anytime you can play a real quality program and get a win your thrilled with it.”

On Friday UAlbany continued their momentum against Vermont. Once again the Great Danes struck early: the Vermont goalkeeper came a long way out, but leading goal scorer Alfonso Pinheiro caught him in position and from 30 yards out slotted the ball into the empty net.

Vermont came into the game ranked eighth in the conference in scoring but the UAlbany backline of Jeff Medina, Bernardo Matos, and Keith Traut did well to shut down Vermont’s attackers. Bernard Yeboah and Brian Wright who had nine and seven goals for Vermont respectively were limited to only two shots on target all game. One of Vermont’s best chances came seven minutes from half time when Wright ran onto a long pass, but Matos was able to nick it away for a corner.

Two minutes into the second half UAlbany doubled their lead, a curling cross from Moosah Khanat was slammed in by Solabarrieta. Two minutes later the two goalscorers combined as Solabarrieta and Pinheiro combined well to provide an assist for Carlos Clark to net his third of the season and his team’s third goal. Pinheiro saved the best for last as he skillfully controlled a long pass from Luke Palmateer before lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

“Anytime you win a conference game you are very happy. Vermont is an excellent team, there is a reason why they ranked as there are,” said Gorman,” Tonight we certainly had the game go our way. The early goal and we started the second half with that quick spurt that took the air out of it.”

A thing that seems to be taking off at UAlbany is the Icelandic clap which made its debut in the past European tournament. “Well we got one from Iceland so it kind of took a life of its own,” said Gorman in reference to Great Dane midfielder Brynjar Steiþórsson, “It’s fun right. The more fans the better the atmosphere, I thought the crowd was great tonight.” Both of the home games received attendance in the high hundreds.

UAlbany’s next game will be away at New Hampshire on this coming Wednesday UMBC before returning home to host UMBC on Saturday.  

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