Men’s Soccer Fast Start Just The Beginning
Most men’s soccer teams would love to have the level of success that UAlbany had in 2016. A year later, with a dominant 9-2 record, the Great Danes are using their 2016 season as motivation.
It was more of the same for the Danes this past week, as they won both of their matches, 2-1 over LIU and 1-0 over Vermont. The pair of victories extended their current winning streak to six games, meaning they haven’t lost in a month.
America East play has only just begun, but UAlbany has already begun their conference title defense in style. The boys in purple are 2-0 in early conference play, having not conceded a single goal in those two matches. So what’s been the secret to the teams’ success? It all starts on defense.
Every clean sheet posted means a game that cannot be lost, and the Great Danes have notched a ton of clean sheets. In five of their first 11 matches, the Danes haven’t allowed a goal. Keeping the opposition off the scoreboard is a team effort, but the efforts of Goalkeeper Danny Vitiello cannot be overlooked.
Vitiello, the senior from Brazil, has been a brick wall in front of the Albany net. In his six games in front of goal, Vitiello has allowed just two goals on 42 shots faced. A good goalkeeper can anchor any defense, and Vitiello has done just that in the early season. When he has been in net, the Great Danes has allowed an absurd 0.33 goals per match.
Danny Vitiello isn’t the only dominant Dane from Brazil, however. If you’ve kept up with UAlbany Men’s Soccer over the past couple seasons, you know the name Afonso Pinheiro. UAlbany’s potent offensive attack runs through the senior forward, and for good reason. Pinheiro leads the Danes with his six goals scored, and his four assists showcase his passing prowess as well. Having a veteran player up front who opposing defenses must focus on is a difference maker, and Pinheiro brings that to the table and then some.
It’s long been known that if a team wants to keep their fans happy, they better win their home games. These Great Danes understand that fully, and have rewarded their fans with a 5-0 home record this season. Flexing their muscles at home isn’t anything new for this team. Last year, the Danes knocked off Syracuse, the third ranked team in the country, in front of an exuberant Casey Stadium crowd.
The Great Dane Men have six matches remaining as they gear up for the America East Tournament. After their conference title last season, the Danes will undoubtedly be eager to defend their throne, but this team has bigger and better things on their mind. With a veteran core and talent all over the starting 11, UAlbany is primed for a run in the NCAA Tournament.
UAlbany Men’s Soccer’s next game is a Wednesday battle with New Hampshire at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. The game will kick off at 7 p.m.