On a over cast and blustery Saturday afternoon, The Vermont Catamounts opened up America East play with a come from behind 2-1 victory over The University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
“The first league match is always a dogfight, especially when we face UNH they are very physical and play with heart and determination,” coach Jesse Cormier said. And a dogfight it was.
Slick conditions and swirling winds presenting problems for both teams in the opening minutes. It was tough to get shots off and the players easily lost their footing.
A few good chances presented themselves for both teams in the first half, and UNH was able to strike first.
Miscommunication between junior goalkeeper Roger Scully and his back line allowed the Wildcat’s Chris Banks to slip through and put the ball in the net with 7:24 left in the first half to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Vermont had one more good scoring chance with 2 seconds left in the first half, but senior co-captain Corey Bronner’s free kick sailed just above the bar to send the match to halftime. It was a very physical and evenly played first half; just the one mistake gave the advantage to New Hampshire.
A red card in the 58th minute on UNH’s Pedro Bras, gave the Catamounts a man advantage for the remainder of the game, and swung the momentum Vermont’s way.
In the second half with the man advantage the Catamounts poured on the pressure. Solid play in the midfield from co-captain junior Panos Georgiadis, freshman Nick Mead, and outstanding defense from sophomores Connor Tobin and Jake McFadden allowed UVM to keep the ball in the UNH zone much of the second half.
Vermont had opportunities on a couple corner kicks that were nearly headed into the net, but UNH held strong. Then in the 73rd minute sophomore Jordan Crasilneck made a nice move to beat his man into the box and was fouled, drawing a penalty kick.
Crasilneck beat UNH goalie Brian Levey to the right corner of the goal tying the game 1-1. The goal is Jordan’s fourth of the season. He had a chance to win the game with just 6:58 to play, but his attempt from just outside the box drifted inches over the bar and the game headed to overtime tied at one.
“Give credit to the guys to work their way back into the game and push it into overtime,” coach Cormier said. “They were able to create things and battle back from down a goal.”In collegiate overtime, unlike the international game, there are two 10 minute overtimes, with golden goal rules, meaning the first team to score wins.
In the first overtime neither team was able to break through for the game winner. Then in with 7:40 left in the second overtime UVM struck.
Freshman TJ Gore, who was recently named America East’s Rookie of the week, drove down the right side of the field and crossed the ball into the box to junior Tyler Hasman who blew the ball by the goalkeeper from 15 yards out. Hasman’s fourth goal of the year gave the Catamounts a 2-1 win and sent the fans home happy after a thrilling and hard fought match.
“I was in the right place at the right time, TJ did all the work and sent a good ball in. I was able to put the ball where I wanted to,” Hasman said. “It is good to start out [conference play] with a win.”
The win lifts Vermont to 4-4-2 (1-0-0) on the season, while New Hampshire falls to 5-3-2(0-1-0) on the year. The Catamounts return to action Wednesday Sep. 27 at Centennial Field when they take on America East Conference foe Stony Brook at 4:00pm.