Lightning strikes on Friday, Oct. 21 caused a delay in the UNH men’s soccer game vs. UMass Lowell. The game was eventually called due to inclement weather. UNH was leading in the contest 1-0 off a goal from Chris Arling.
The game was rescheduled to Sunday, Oct. 23 with a complete restart, both teams starting at 0-0. Though the rain stopped, lightning struck twice at Bremner Field. Although this time, it was not the weather, it was the Wildcats.
Led by goals from both captains Chris Wingate and Duff Thomson, the Wildcats defeated the previously undefeated No. 14 UMass Lowell River Hawks 2-1. The Wildcats have now won two consecutive games and are the third seed as the America East playoff tournament picture starts to take shape.
“[The plan was] to play [a] really patient defensive scheme and sit in a little bit tighter because their shape really spreads you out in possesion,” head coach Marc Hubbard when asked about the game plan going into the matchup. “I thought the guys did really well to do that, and to be able to keep the ball, at least until the last 20 minutes or so.”
The matchup began as a defensive standoff. Both teams fought for lengthy possessions and goalkeepers on both ends came up big for their respective teams. UNH’s Andrew Pesci made three stops in the first half, as all of UMass Lowell’s first-half shots were on target.
Riverhawks goalkeeper Austin Kroll made two first-half saves, but eventually, defense turned to offense and Thomson cashed in. On an unassisted shot, Thomson took a strike and buried one past Kroll to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead, right where they left off before the delay on Friday night.
“I was lucky, [Jack Dickson] created some confusion and it was good, just found the back of the net,” Thomson said.
The Wildcats controlled the ball for the majority of the first half, carrying the one-goal lead into the halftime intermission.
As the second half began, the contest became more physical. Three yellow cards were given out: two on the Riverhawks and one on the Wildcats. A defensive error in the Riverhawk’s defensive zone provided an opportunity for the ‘Cats to extend their lead, and they capitalized.
Off of a penalty kick, Wingate fooled substituted goalkeeper Zach Rowell to give UNH the two-goal edge. UMass Lowell would eventually find the back of the net, as a couple of quick shots resulted in a goal by Dario Jovanoski to cut the deficit to one.
With under two minutes to play, it was about hanging on to the lead. After a competitive back-and forth battle, a turnover with under 30 seconds to play sealed the 2-1 victory for the Wildcats and resulted in the first loss of the season for the Riverhawks.
“That’s a typical Division I tight soccer game, you’re going to have to battle,” Hubbard said. “It’s all based off our work ethic, both goals were restart-oriented, [stuffing] the box and we were able to capitalize, so [we’re] happy.”
UNH will carry its win streak into Tuesday when they take on Harvard University from the Ivy League. Game is set to start at 7 p.m.