It was a victory seven years in the making for the Wildcats and it was well worth the wait.
The UNH men’s soccer team beat the University of Maryland-Baltimore County 3-0 on Friday during Homecoming weekend. The victory marks UNH’s fifth straight shutout victory and their first in conference play. Most importantly the win marked the first time in seven years that the Wildcats beat the Retrievers. Since 2009, UNH had gone 0-5-5 against UMBC.
The Wildcats displayed the characteristics that have gotten them to a 9-1-0 record and to beating a team that has had their number for years: an attacking offense and a solid defense. For the game, UNH had 14 shots with four on target and three goals. The defense continued to perform well as it only allowed one shot in the second half, compared to the four it let through in the first half.
“It’s huge. It’s a big deal to go out and get your first conference win 3-0, which is exactly what we wanted,” senior midfielder Chris Wingate said about the team’s victory. “They were 0-5-5 against us so it is a great feeling to win this game.”
Wingate played the facilitator role for the Wildcats as he earned two assists in the game. That put his season total at six, which is best on the team. The first came at 22:16 when Wingate crossed the ball to sophomore forward Chris Arling. Arling rose above a crowd of UMBC defenders and headed the ball into the goal, putting the ‘Cats up 1-0. The goal marks the tenth of the season for Arling and his third consecutive game with a goal.
Wingate’s second assist came at 75:01 when he crossed the ball to junior midfielder Juan Velazquez, who then dribbled past UMBC defenders and was able to tuck it in to the net. The score put the Wildcat’s up 3-0. The goal was Velazquez’s second of the season.
“Chris played well tonight. He hasn’t been able to express and do a lot this year because we have been able to spread the field,” head coach Marc Hubbard said about Wingate’s performance. “But in a big game situation like tonight, we went to the midfield and he was able to step up.”
It wasn’t all Wingate as freshman forward Jack Doherty earned his second assist of the season when he threaded a ball to sophomore midfielder Alex Valencia. The Tracy, California native then one-timed the ball for the score, Valencia’s third of the season.
Junior goalkeeper Andrew Pesci tallied his fifth-consecutive shutout. He has made 26 saves over that span. Pesci made four saves against UMBC with three in the first half and one in the second.
“I’m really happy with the way we played. We played good soccer tonight and we created a lot of attacking chances,” Hubbard said on the team’s victory. “All the things we’ve talked about played itself out tonight against a really good conference opponent. We’re 1-0 right now and we set the tone going into conference play and I’m pleased about that.”
Next game, the Wildcats go on the road again as they will face intrastate rival Dartmouth College on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at Burnham Field.