UMBC’s Kyle Saunderson nets twice to end WVU streak

UMBC men’s soccer team (4-1-0) defeated the nationally ranked West Virginia University Mountaineers (3-1-2) 3-1 in a tight game. The game was played at Retriever Soccer Park on September 13, and it was UMBC’s third home game of the season. The Retrievers performed admirably against the No. 19 ranked Mountaineers who were previously unbeaten, and the crowd turnout got to see a good attacking display from the home team.

UMBC dominated the game in the first half, with incisive attacks and quick passing without the requisite finishing in the early periods. The Retrievers appeared to favor attacking down their right side, possibly exploiting a weakness down their visitors’ left. The plan worked as their attack was able to create chances to score allowing Sophomore Colin Weyant to hit the crossbar with a fierce drive followed by senior Sammy Kahsai who was particularly wasteful with three wide shots in the first half.

Eventually UMBC unlocked WVU’s defence midway through the first half with two goals from set pieces. The first goal came from a free kick, headed down by senior Tom Paul and tucked in by junior James Gielen, after freshman Matt Bailey’s shot was blocked. The second goal followed soon after, with junior Kyle Saunderson heading in off the crossbar following a corner from Bailey.

There was controversy over who scored UMBC’s second goal, as Saunderson’s header hit the crossbar and looked to have went in before sophomore Nick Gumbs tapped the ball in.

“I’m not really sure. I headed it and I got taken out. I guess it is mine,” said Saunderson.

In the second half, the Mountaineers began to grow into the game and broke UMBC’s defensive resilience in the 72nd minute when Albert Andres-Llop scored a free kick from 20 yards. The 2-1 scoreline made the game tense for the Retrievers but Saunderson headed in his third goal of the year from a set piece to close out the win for UMBC.

After the game, assist hero Bailey said of his team’s finishing:

“Like coach said earlier, we do not have that killer mentality quite yet. We got a lot of hungry guys who want to score, [and] it is just that final piece, but I think [the killer mentality] is coming, we are getting more goals every game. Pretty soon, it’s going to be a lot better. We are going to see a lot more goals scored and a lot less against.”

Saunderson gave insight into Coach Carinji’s attacking game plan.

“It is definitely a game plan [getting me forward for set pieces]. Coach sets [the defenders] up with great corner, throw in and free kick plays. Between Tom Paul, Gregg [Hauck] and I, that is some big bodies and we are always dangerous on free kicks”.

The Retrievers worked hard in defence and created numerous chances in attack to defeat the mighty Mountaineers. They also preserved their unbeaten home record, which is something to hold on to as UMBC faces “one of the toughest schedules in UMBC history” according to Coach Carinji. They play tough schools Navy, Western Michigan and University of Maryland in the coming days.