River Hawks Attack Grounded by Great Danes
By Lauren Navratil
After the temperature dipped into the 30s for a late 8 p.m. start, the University at Albany men’s soccer team kept warm by securing a clean win of 2-1 against University of Massachusetts Lowell Saturday night at Bob Ford Field at Casey Stadium.
The Great Danes proved their preparation and desire to win early on after senior Phillip Persson scored the first goal of the night just three minutes into the first half.
Heavy excitement within the first few minutes quickly wore off, however, as the game fell into a steady pace as UAlbany (7-6-1, 2-2-0 America East) maintained almost full possession of the ball while UMass Lowell (7-6-0, 2-2-0 AE) struggled to enter to the Great Danes 18-yard box.
With few shots on net by either team during the remaining minutes, the first half concluded with a stagnant, but dominating force from the Great Danes.
“We started the game strong and dominated the first half and into the second,” UAlbany Head Coach Trevor Gorman said. “We imposed ourselves on our opponents and made it difficult for them to make it out of their own end.”
The Great Danes kicked off the second half with the same energy that allowed them to occupy the ball, giving little opportunity for UMass to make any progress. Through concise passing at a fast pace while moving the ball around the entire field, UAlbany kept their opponent working hard by forcing them to strictly play defense.
About half way into the second half, senior Jake Barros brought some more flare to the game and roar to the crowd by burying the ball in the net via a header pass from freshman Nico Solabarietta.
“It felt really great to score that goal,” Barros said. “Nico left the ball behind; I picked up the loose ends and just put it in the net.”
By domination of play and leading the score 2-0, fans watching the game from the recently renamed Casey Stadium were confident that the Danes would finish up the chilly night with another victory.
But UMass Lowell surprised everyone when the ball hit the back of the net behind UAlbany goalkeeper Michael Pizzuti. Confusion arose on and off the field, as the goal looked as if may have been offside, leaving the referees to review the play, and while the players waited anxiously.
The referees said the goal was good, and the River Hawks were on the board thanks to junior Guilherme Rodrigues, who brought a little hope and confidence back for his team. The team’s renowned ambitious energy certainly showed when they saw more time in Great Danes’ dangerous territory during the final minutes than they had the whole game.
In the last five minutes, the Danes focused mainly on defending and reclaiming ball possession, however, keeping it mostly out of reach for UMass.
This left UMass falling short and UAlbany celebrating the win at the sound of the buzzer.
“We just kept the ball and played smart the way we know how to. We played it long if we had to, but used short passes and communication too,” said Barros.
Another victory for the Great Danes means they need to keep up the hard work and maintain the energy they demonstrated so well this Saturday.
“We’re really pleased to get another conference victory here at home. We have to now learn to how to play with leads in the second half when opponents start to press higher or take more risks,” Gorman said. “But, if we’re in that position, it means we’re winning, and it feels better to learn that lesson than it would others. We’ve been showing a lot of good signs over the past few weeks, and as for our winning momentum, we’re just going to try not to break it.”
After a non-conference game at Boston University on Tuesday, UAlbany returns home to Casey Stadium for an America East matchup with New Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.