By Sam Donnelly, Staff Writer
After dropping two games on a road trip in Colorado, the UNH men’s soccer team rebounded with a 3-2 win over Hofstra. Fazal Nabi led the Wildcats with two goals. David Schlatter chipped in with a goal and Jesus Tudela tallied two assists. In their previous five games, the Wildcats scored a total of two goals, which in the eyes of assistant coach Logan Hoffman was due to effort.
“I think a lot of it was the work rate,” Hoffman said. “Guys ran harder for each other tonight and we made runs to the box.”
The first half was evenly played with neither team creating any legitimate opportunities. Both defenses made it hard for the opposing offense to maintain possession. In the 19th minute, the Wildcats received their first quality opportunity of the game when Nabi set up a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
“I just started talking to myself,” Nabi said. “I decided that I wanted to take it and it went well.”
Nabi bent the ball around the Hofstra wall and put it into the bottom left corner of the net to give UNH an early 1-0 lead.
It wasn’t long until Nabi found the back of the net a second time just minutes later, when a streaking Tudela found him on a crossed ball. The half ended with the Wildcats holding a 2-0 lead.
UNH pushed that lead to three off a goal from Schlatter, which was once again assisted by Tudela. The Wildcats felt comfortable with the lead, but Hofstra was not going away. Less than a minute later senior midfielder Elliott Firth finished a shot off a rebound given by senior Travis Worra.
The game then opened up. Both teams made full-field runs that led to great opportunities. A lot of pressure was put on both goalies, but they stood strong. The Wildcats defense struggled to keep the Hofstra attackers off the ball.
“We need to improve defensively as a team,” Nabi said. “We have to work together and be patient when we don’t have the ball.”
In the 87th minute, Firth found the back of the net again. Hofstra players hustled to get the game started again, but the Wildcat defense held them off to finish the game and grab a 3-2 victory.
Although it was a much-needed win, Hoffman wasn’t satisfied.
“It was a discipline issue,” Hoffman said. “We were okay at first, but towards the end we lacked the discipline to continue to embrace the defensive challenges. I wanted a 3-0 win. They did as well, and I know my goalkeeper did.”
In the end, the Wildcats finished with nine shots, five on goal, while rendering 14 shots to Hofstra and seven on goal. Worra made five saves and Hofstra’s McPartland finished with two. The win brought UNH to 3-4-0, while Hofstra drops to 2-3-2.
The Wildcats will be at home again Friday Sept. 26, this time against Marist. The game is scheduled for at 7 p.m. and will be played on Bremner field. Although it wasn’t pretty, the importance of the win is not lost in the mind of the Wildcats.
“The number one thing is we came out of this with three points,” Hoffman said. “We needed a win to get back on track.”