Men's Soccer — ‘Cats blanked by Retrievers

Bret Belden

By Josh Sullivan, Sports Editor

UNH held its own against Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday night, but an inability to score led to a 2-0 loss.

Though pleased with his team’s performance, interim head coach Logan Hoffman needed more out of his team to take home a victory.

“We gotta get some final product, you know we got to find the back of the net,” he said. “UMBC finished two really good goals, and that was the difference in this game.”

UNH had several quality chances, especially early on. Midfielder Avery Heilbrom chased down a loose ball on the left side of the field and got a shot off, only for it to sail over the cross bar. At the 20 minute mark, Erik Martel danced his way through the middle of the field, putting himself in a good position to score before his shot was deflected away.

“I thought we had early success executing our game plan,” Hoffman said. “As we got tired we started to drift a little bit away from our game plan.”

UMBC took the lead when senior forward Kay Banjo took the ball across the middle of the field after walking out of the left side, stopped on a dime and ripped a shot on the net to beat goalkeeper Travis Worra wide to his left side, putting the Retrievers ahead 1-0 with about 17 minutes left in the first half.

Worra kept his team alive on several different plays, including a save on senior midfielder Stephen Ho’s shot from 70 feet out that would have put UMBC up two goals heading into halftime.

UNH held the momentum in the first five minutes of the second half. Midfielder Chris Wingate booted the ball toward the net that took an oustretched Billy Heavner to make the save. Soon after, Erik Martel sent the ball inches over the crossbar and UNH didn’t back off until a UMBC defender cleared the ball down field.

UNH had its best chance to get even with 23 minutes in the game. Martel ripped a shot that was just barely swatted away by Heavner. After the ensuing corner kick, Heavner stopped two UNH headers and a strong shot on the ground from Wingate.

UMBC struck again at 17:33, when a corner kick found the back of the net, as Kansaye headed it past a leaping Worra. The goal made the score 2-0 and UNH would not be able to recover. The closest UNH came to scoring after that was a rocket from Nabi at 5:14, but the ball went just over the crossbar.

Midfielder Duff Thompson led the defense, which succeeded in containing the quick and shifty attack. Thompson was personally responsible for shutting down speedy midfielder Malcom Harris. Midfielder Fazil Nabi and Riley Ellis were also standouts defensively.

“They won so many first balls and second balls,” Martel said. “They really held it down for us and allowed us to have the ball more than normal.”

Hoffman lamented the Wildcats’ missed opportunities.

“You hope that header off the crossbar goes in or we sneak one in somewhere else,” he said. “Maybe we get a PK in the first half, but I did think the team battled.”

UNH is at Brown on Tuesday.

Follow Josh Sullivan on Twitter @JSully27