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Men’s Soccer stunned by Vermont in playoffs

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By Carl Straut-Collard

Staff Writer

sports.asp@gmail.com

Photo from UAlbany Athletics Vermont ended UAlbany's season on Saturday afternoon at Bob Ford Field.
Photo from UAlbany Athletics
Vermont ended UAlbany’s season on Saturday afternoon at Bob Ford Field.

Nov 11, 2014

    The University at Albany men’s soccer team (4-9-6) ended their 2014 season in a 2-1 loss to the University of Vermont (8-8-2) in the America East Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Bob Ford Field.

   The Great Danes put forth a strong effort in the playoff match against the Catamounts. The effort, however, was all for naught as Vermont would break a 1-1 tie in the 85th minute. With the win, Vermont advances to the semifinals against the top seeded University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Wednesday night.

   The match began with a near goal by UAlbany in the second minute when defender Dominic McGarr delivered an air ball into the box from a free kick to find midfielder Philp Persson’s head. Persson headed the ball with too much force over the net, keeping the game scoreless early.

   In the seventh minute, Danes forward Afonso Pinheiro took a shot on goal but Vermont goalkeeper Conor Leland saved it.

   Tensions rose and the atmosphere turned immediately after two players, each from opposing sides, started to push and shove each another. Just one minute later, Vermont had the opportunity to capitalize on an open net with the goalkeeper on the floor, but the shot by Bernard Yeboah was blocked by a nearby defender and taken away.

   The Danes went down the field and defender Keith Traut found Pinheiro fifteen yards out from the net. Pinherio blasted his shot inside the right post, giving the Danes the early one goal advantage in the 17th minute.

   13 minutes later, Vermont midfielder Jaime Miralles delivered a lead ball to striker Brian Wright who got one-on-one with goalkeeper Michael Pizzuti and easily finished him off with the game-tying score. In the 35th minute, Wright again had just the goalkeeper to beat but he could not finish as Pizzuti stopped the shot with a strong save the second time.

   Vermont’s forcing forward, Wright, sprinted past UAlbany’s last line off defense throughout the first half, receiving straight passes from the middle of the pitch and shooting on goal three times by the end of the first half.

   After 45 minutes, the Danes and Catamounts entered the locker rooms tied at one with Vermont outshooting UAlbany 7-5.

   The second half of play would consist of the same playoff intensity as the first.

   Vermont’s Wright found a shot from a rebound attempt in the 57th minute but Pizzuti was there to block it away to keep the game tied.

   The Danes had a opportunity to take the lead in the 58th minute as forward Ivan Martinez dribbled past for a breakaway and crossed across the box to Pinherio, who subsequently took a convincing shot that blasted right by the top of the net.

   For the following 10 minutes, the Great Danes’ front five attackers forced their way into Vermont territory and continued to find good looks and corners. The Catamount defense struggled to clear the ball at times and UAlbany looked like they would answer the bell with a significant goal late.

   The game came down to the final 100 and the pace increased for both sides.

   Intensity grew and among the anxious pitch, Vermont’s Miralles found forward Bernard Yeboah who waited in the center of the box and drilled the ball by the lone goalkeeper for the late lead.

   UAlbany wanted to respond but the Catamount defense prevailed with clearance after clearance. The game and the season ended in heartbreak fashion for the Great Danes as Vermont advanced to the semifinals of the tournament.

   “We believed we were the better team going into it,” Great Danes head coach Trevor Gorman said. “We had our chances to win the game, we had a lead, we had the ball a lot in the second half but give credit to Vermont.

   UAlbany and Vermont had a dozen shots each and at least 16 fouls.

   As players and coaches shook hands at midfield, UAlbany’s Pedro Espindola fell to his feet at midfield and continued to stay on the turf. With his head down, opposing Vermont players and teammates walked over to pat him on the back. Tears rolled down his face. The season was over for him and his teammates.

   “This is something we hope now moving forward, if we’re ever going to win one of these things, we’re going to take the positive steps and improve from it,” Gorman said.

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