DURHAM, N.H.- With five minutes left in regulation and the University of New Hampshire men’s soccer team down by a goal, the Wildcats notched two goals in less than two minutes to secure the final spot in the America East tournament. Sophomore Dylan George (Bangor, Maine) tallied a goal and an assist to propel the Wildcats to a 3-2 must-win victory over UMBC on Wednesday evening at Bremner Field.
With the win the Wildcats will be seeded sixth in the playoffs as they finish the America East regular season with a conference record of 2-4-2. The Wildcats, with one non-conference game remaining are 7-5-4 overall, while the Retrievers fall to 6-8-2 and 1-5-1 in America East play.
Trailing 2-1 with 4:05 to play, senior A.J. DuBois (Acworth, N.H.) crossed the ball to fellow senior Richie Weinrebe (East Providence, R.I.) on the left side of the box. Weinrebe received the picture-perfect pass and fired it into the right corner to earn his first non-penalty kick goal of his career and even the score, 2-2.
One minute, 19 seconds later, George broke the 2-2 tie when his second scoring attempt found the back of the net. Sophomore forward Chris Banks (Westborough, Mass.) fired it on net, but UMBC goalkeeper Steve King made the stop. George, positioned next to the left post, retrieved the deflected save and took a shot, which was blocked by a Retriever defenseman. The ball rebounded right back to George, who this time curved it into the lower left corner of the net with 2:46 remaining.
The Retrievers got on the board first with the lone goal of the opening stanza at 16:06. Kevin Gnatiko dribbled into the middle of the box, alluding defenders before delivering a forward pass to Andrew Bulls, who’s shot just beat the hands of diving goalkeeper Colin O’Donnell (Springfield, Mass.).
Banks tallied his team-leading seventh goal of the season to get the Wildcats on the board and even the score, 1-1, at 73:28. The forward, on the left side of the box, received a pass from the right side and took a sliding shot, which found the low right corner of the net. George, who was selected as the Man of the Match for the Wildcats, earned the assist on the play.
Just over a minute later, the Retrievers took the lead once again, 2-1, with a goal by Kevin Gnatiko at 74:53. John Paul Waraska delivered a high serve, which found the foot of Gnatiko 25 yards out, who chipped a lob over the head of O’Donnell, who was charging out to challenge Gnatiko.
The Wildcats tallied a season-high 20 shots in the game, including 13 in the second period, as they outshot the visitors who recorded 14 in the game. O’Donnell had four saves in the win for the Wildcats, while King tallied five for the Retrievers.
The Wildcats will wrap-up the regular season with a trip to play intra-state Dartmouth on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The America East conference tournament will begin with first round action on Saturday, Nov. 8. The opponent and time of the game are still to be determined.