DURHAM, N.H. – After leading the University of New Hampshire men's soccer team to its first conference title game since 1994, senior goalkeeper Colin O'Donnell (Hampden, Mass.) and freshman midfielder Steven Palumbo (Kingston, N.H.) put together two of the most productive seasons at their respective positions in program history.
Despite falling 5-4 on penalty kicks to UMBC (Nov. 13) in the America East Championship game, the Wildcats held the Retrievers scoreless through regulation and both overtime periods, marking the third consecutive team they shutout in the conference tournament, as they also blanked Binghamton (Nov. 6) and Boston University (Nov. 10). The impressive mark makes UNH the first team ever to record three shutouts in the conference tournament.
O'Donnell was a major key to UNH's success, becoming the first goalkeeper to record three shutouts in the tournament. In the quarterfinal round, he was credited with two saves in a 1-0 victory at Binghamton University. He then blanked top-seeded Boston University – also on the road – in UNH's 1-0 overtime victory on Nov. 10, tallying six saves. He closed the tourney with a four-save effort to shut out UMBC through regulation and overtime (110 minutes) in the league title game.
With those three shutouts, O'Donnell was selected to the All-Tournament Team and concluded his collegiate career with a shutout streak of 309 minutes, eight seconds. He also increased his single-season shutout total to 10, which ties the UNH record, and lowered his goals-against-average to 0.43, which is a school single-season record and ranks No. 2 in the nation.
Additionally, O'Donnell finishes the year ranking first in the country with a .902 save percentage, allowing more than one goal just once in 17 matches. He was especially stellar at home, posting a 5-0-2 record with a 0.26 GAA, .946 save percentage and five shutouts as he stopped 35 of 37 shots on goal.
His accomplishments did not go without merit, earning the America East Goalkeeper of the Year award and All-Conference First Team honors for the second consecutive year. Aside from his impressive GAA and save percentage numbers, he topped the America East in shutouts (10) and saves (74), while ranking third in saves per game (4.35).
Palumbo was equally instrumental in UNH's playoff run, finishing the season with a team-best eight points on three goals and two assists, earning America East All-Rookie Team honors.
For Palumbo, the goal was his third game-winner of the year, as he also tallied winners against Boston University (Oct. 23) and Central Connecticut State (Sept. 6). Additionally, he notched an assist in New Hampshire's win over BU, while also tallying a helper in a 2-1 win over Bryant (Sept. 22).