Khanat the OT hero as Men’s Soccer beats UNH
By Alessio Fasullo
The University at Albany only managed one shot on target in Saturday’s matchup against the University of New Hampshire, but fortunately for the Great Danes that shot turned out to be a goal.
On a cold and windy night where UAlbany’s seniors were being honored it was sophomore Moosah Khanat who stole the show in double overtime, smashing the ball in the net for his first ever goal after receiving a pass from fellow sophomore Carlos Clark. The goal was ended the game as the Danes won 1-0 on Saturday night at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.
“It was unreal. Everything we work for as a team pays off for those moments right there,” said Khanat to describe the moments after scoring with his teammates rushing after him to celebrate.
“It’s not surprising that most of our games with UNH and most of the teams in the conference have been one goal games,” said head coach Trevor Gorman. “This game was the same, it was tight, they had periods when they were on top, we had periods when we had the better of play, and fortunately for us we were able to find that special moment at the end.”
The game began with New Hampshire starting strongly. UAlbany goalkeeper Eric Orologio twice had to come off his line to claim a loose ball in first three minutes. The first serious chance in the game came in the eighth minute as a long New Hampshire pass found Ben Ramin, but with only the goalkeeper to beat Ramin’s shot went wide.
For much of the first half, UAlbany was under a significant amount of pressure, with 29 minutes played a New Hampshire free kick was well taken although none of the players could get a touch.
UAlbany eased the pressure near the end of the half by winning a string of corners although it was New Hampshire who finished the half well. In the 39th minute Chris Wingate, New Hampshire’s leading goal scorer for the season with five, got himself in a good position but his shot was straight at Orologio.
A minute later substitute Ben Noel of UNH played a clever pass to put his teammate Connor Pauley through although Orologio came to the rescue yet again to prevent UAlbany from going into halftime behind a goal.
In the second half, New Hampshire midfielder Chris Ariling hit a powerful shot from 18 yards out which for once had Orologio beaten, but came off the goal post and back into play. Minutes later Nabi got on the end of a New Hampshire corner but his powerful effort was just over the goal.
With close to 15 minutes left in normal time Pedro Espindola was subbed into the game. Espindola, who leads the team with four assists, made an immediate impact as UAlbany gotmore chances. Despite UAlbany dominating the last five minutes of play it would remain goalless as the game headed into golden-goal overtime.
Seconds into overtime UAlbany almost scored. Khanat’s cross caught New Hampshire goalie Ryan Carpenter out of position with the goal fully exposed, but despite attempting a dramatic bicycle kick Barros could not score. A minute later Pinheiro passed to Persson but the latter’s shot was too high.
Despite dominating, UAlbany was almost caught out with two minutes left in the first period of overtime, Duff Thomson of UNH hit a powerful swerving shot but at full stretch Orologio managed to just tip the ball over the goal to save the game.
With four minutes remaining UAlbany created their best chance. Barros showed great skill to get past two New Hampshire defenders and hit an accurate pass into the box, Khanat got a touch but the ball agonizingly rolled just wide.
But just a minute and a half latter UAlbany would end the game. Espindola won the free kick, which Persson took sending the ball into New Hampshire’s penalty box. Clark hit a low cross across the goal and from almost an identical position from which he had missed moments earlier, and Khanat powerfully hit the ball into the goal to score his first career goal and end the game.
“It was just never give up, you just always have to make those runs, you always have to be hungry for the ball, try to score,” Khanat said describing the teams winning mentality, adding that the vast amount of practice the UAlbany team put into scoring scenarios payed off.
Khanat’s strike also ended a bad streak for UAlbany, which had not prevailed in overtime for the last couple seasons. Coincidentally, UAlbany’s last overtime win had also been against New Hampshire.
Coach Gorman was pleased with the attitude and desire his team showed to win the game, which had added importance.
“Senior night is always special, because you want to make sure your honoring the guys who have done so much for the program. I was pleased with our energy, effort and desire and to find that goal at the end,” Gorman said.
Before the game began senior players Jordan DiLapo, Martin Gorrie, Philip Persson and Anthony Rozzano were recognized before their last regular season home game.
Despite the obvious exuberance off winning a game in the dying minutes, both Gorman and Khanat expressed that the UAlbany team is not going to get carried away with a tough test on the road against Vermont on Halloween day at 1 p.m.
“We’ll go back and watch the video and start preparing for what Vermont likes to do, look at how we play today and make some decision off of that,” Gorman said.