DURHAM, N.H. – Ugochukwu Uche (Ann Arbor, Mich.) scored with 1:18 remaining in regulation to lift the University of New Hampshire men's soccer team to Friday night's 2-1 victory against the University of Rhode Island in the season opener for both teams at Bremner Field.
Following a scoreless first half in which the shots were even 5-5, the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 57:58 on a goal by senior captain Brad Hilton (Merrimack, N.H.). The sequence began when Charlie Roche (Haverhill, Mass.) played the ball into space along the right sideline. Uche gained possession and struck a crossing pass to Robert Palumbo (Kingston, N.H.). Following a few touches, Palumbo centered the ball back to Hilton, whose shot from 20 yards sailed inside the left post.
The Rams were forced to play with just 10 players when Matt Ribbens was issued his second yellow card of the match moments later at 59:37.
URI threatened in the 80th minute when Matt Sykes' service off a left corner kick was headed by Thomas Lindroos 10 yards off the near post and the shot caromed off a UNH defender before being caught by goalkeeper Travis Worra (Lancaster, Pa.).
The visitors leveled the score, 1-1, at 83:52. On a restart from 45 yards near the right touchline, Sykes bent a service into the box that Franco Lo Presti headed under the crossbar from 15 yards.
Sykes continued to be dangerous. In the 85th minute, a right-footed blast from 30 yards was directed at the upper-left corner, but Worra's leaping effort kept the score tied. Less than one minute later – from almost the same place – Sykes took aim at the right post on another hard shot, but once again Worra made the save.
UNH regained the lead, 2-1, at 88:42 when Uche pushed the ball up the left side and beat Rams' goalie Peyton Warwick.
Worra finished with two saves to earn the win in his collegiate debut. Warwick was credited with four saves.
URI recorded a 13-10 overall shot advantage and generated a 7-1 edge in corner kicks. The physical contest included a total of 33 fouls and eight yellow cards – four issued to both teams.
New Hampshire continues its three-game homestand Sept. 1 against Iona College. Game time at Bremner Field is 7 p.m.