The UNH men’s soccer team defeated UMass Lowell in the America East Conference Tournament semi-final round by a score of 3-0 this past Wednesday. The game was dominated by the Wildcats for most of the game as UNH outshot UMass Lowell 20-7.
The first goal was scored by UNH first-year midfielder Rory O’Driscoll in the 44th minute. This was the first-year player’s fourth goal of 2019 as he has shown plenty of promise this year in big moments. The second goal was scored by first-year midfielder Bilal Kamal, who scored his second goal of the year but has been a huge part of this offense, and he is a big reason why UNH is second in the America East in assists.
The third goal is what really put UMass Lowell in their coffin as it was scored in the 77th minute by the ‘Cats top offensive weapon Antonio Colacci. This was Colacci’s seventh goal of the year, adding to his 23 points, which leads the team.
Colacci spoke on his offensive leadership this year. “I just try my best to help the team, you know whatever it takes. If I have the opportunity to score, I’ll take it, and if I have the opportunity to help a teammate score, I’ll take it as well.”
Including the regular season, this was UNH’s thirteenth win of 2019, and it was a big one as it moves them to the America East Conference championship game against Hartford. Head coach Mark Hubbard, who is taking this UNH squad to their second conference championship game in two years, commented on what it takes to get to games of this magnitude and what it takes to win them.
“We’ve been taking those steps since the preseason. I think this is a humble group and they’re not going to think too highly of themselves. You work hard all year to get these home-field scenarios and to put yourselves in a position to be successful and that doesn’t guarantee success but it’s definitely nice to be at home and be on familiar grounds,” Hubbard said.
Colacci spoke on his next opponent, Hartford, as they will be facing them on Saturday. “It’s going to be a completely different game than it was last time. We beat them 5-0, but that score means absolutely nothing. It’s a championship game so they’re going to leave it all on the line.”
Hartford will certainly be a tough opponent for the ‘Cats as they finished the regular season in third place in the America East Conference with a 12-4-4 overall record. They most recently beat UVM in their semi-final game, and the Catamounts finished second in the conference. They were victorious in overtime, so their resume is building by the game. It certainly reflects well on UNH that they beat them 5-0 previously, however, Colacci is right in that this is a championship game, and anything can happen, especially in soccer.
The America East Conference championship game will be held at Wildcat Stadium this Saturday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. Hartford is the No. 3 seed and UNH is the No. 1 seed in the conference. The winner will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.