By SAM DONNELLY
“This feels like what it should be always for us.”
Those were the words of UNH men’s head soccer coach Marc Hubbard after the Wildcats 2-0 win over No. 24 Dartmouth College. After starting out with eight wins and two ties, the Wildcats have struggled since, going 1-3-1. Tuesday night was a different story.
The Wildcats got two goals from senior midfielder Fazal Nabi and were anchored by a strong defensive effort allowing just four shots on goal. Duff Thompson and Chris Wingate both tallied assists on Nabi’s goals.
“The last couple weeks the results haven’t gone our way,” Hubbard said. “But we have worked hard defensively to limit chances. We have created chances and haven’t been able to finish them. Tonight we got great individual efforts from [Nabi] to score. That’s what it takes. We need guys to step up and put balls in the net.”
The game was back and forth in the early minutes of the game. Both teams were trying to feel each other out. Freshman Chris Arling nearly put the Wildcats on the board early with a header that went just wide to the left. Both teams settled down and the score was tied 0-0 going into the half.
Early in the second half, the Wildcats didn’t look ready. They turned the ball over twice in their own end and failed to possess for any period of time.
“We didn’t start the second half very well,” Hubbard said. “The first 5 minutes were not very good. But we were able to play ourselves into it.”
That might be an understatement. In the 60th minute Wingate made a move through the defense and crossed the ball right to the foot of Nabi, who redirected the ball straight to the back of the net to give UNH the 1-0 lead.
“It was a good individual effort by (Wingate),” Nabi said. “I moved myself in the middle of the box and anticipated him putting it there.”
Nabi wasn’t done. Just 3 minutes later, Thompson sent a long cross into the box that was corralled by Nabi. With his back to the goal, he took one big turn to his left and fired the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. Just like that it was 2-0 Wildcats.
With just a few minutes left Big Green midfielder Matt Greer fired a shot from just inside the 18 that barely missed the left post. Dartmouth didn’t quit and put plenty of pressure on the Wildcats in the final minutes, but the defense held strong to grab another win for the Wildcats.
UNH increases its record to 9-3-3. The shutout was the Wildcats fifth shutout of the season. With just two conference games remaining, the Wildcats currently sit in fourth with a 2-2-1 record. Their next game will be at home against last place Hartford on Friday, before the team finishes its season on the road against third-ranked Vermont.
“In conference play things are a lot tighter,” Hubbard said. “I think the way we have been playing, we just haven’t scored. We need to carry tonight over to our next two games.”