Student section POV: men’s soccer conference matchup

On a chilly Saturday night, the Retrievers headed into conference play with a 5-2-2 overall record, matching their win total from a year ago when they went 5-9-3 overall. When they entered conference play one year ago, they did so with a 4-2-3 record, going on to lose seven straight games in conference only to be broken up by a rare non-conference match up in a late-October win against Drexal University.

Entering conference play, the Retrievers have had a season which has shown flashes of greatness, upsetting No. 19 West Virginia 3-1 and stunning No. 1 Maryland with a 1-1 tie. The Retrievers have played only one other ranked opponent this season, losing 2-0 against No.12 Western Michigan.

So, after an 0-7 conference record last year, and an amazing start to the 2017 campaign, the Retrievers were hopeful to start off their conference slate with a bang, and that’s just what they did.

Entering the game ranked and undefeated, the New Hampshire Wildcats were a clear favorite to win this conference showdown. Nevertheless, UMBC came out of the gates very strong in the beginning of the game.

The Retrievers looked great, making crisp passes, winning tough challenges, and seeming to physically dominant from the start. They quickly made it appear as if New Hampshire was the real underdog in this contest.

As the opening minutes progressed, UMBC drove down the field forcing a corner kick, a quick start to action. On a corner kick by senior Cormac Noel, the ball was headed near the goal by Kyle Saunderson, finally reaching the goal after a clutch kick by senior midfielder Sammy Kahsai. The remainder of the game became a battle of the keepers, showing numerous tough tests for both New Hampshire’s Andrew Pesci, and UMBC’s crowd favorite Ciaran O’Loughlin.

But after Kahsai’s goal in the eighth minute, neither of the goal keepers faltered. O’laughlin went on to make four saves, as the Wildcats out-shot the Retrievers 16-6. Though the shots may have seemed lopsided, the raw numbers do not paint an accurate picture. While it reads that the shots were bombarding the goal through the night, many of the Wildcat’s shots missing by ridiculous margins.

Many murmurs in the student section suggested that New Hampshire’s efforts were lackadaisical, and aside from two specifically impressive saves from O’Loughlin, New Hampshire did not pose much of a threat for the Retrievers.

After the game, the Wildcats were quite visibly upset, as three of their players lay on the ground for quite some time after the conclusion of the match. Junior back Otto Salen was on the ground for a particularly long time after the game after having a tough night playing in front of the UMBC student section, and missing some key plays throughout the game.

The Retrievers were back in action against conference rivals Binghamton on Saturday, Oct. 7 with a 1-1 tie. The next home game will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14 as the Retrievers take on Albany as part of the weeks homecoming activities.