Men's Soccer Advances to America East Title Game With 3-2 Win Over Stony Brook; Will Host UNH in Saturday Title Match
BALTIMORE—The second-seeded UMBC men's soccer team scored three times in the final 10 minutes of the first half and held off Stony Brook in the second stanza to earn a 3-2 victory in the America East Conference semifinals and advance to the league championship game for the second year in a row. The Retrievers will host No. 5 New Hampshire on Saturday at 1 p.m.
UMBC (11-4-2) has won five straight games and is 7-1-2 in its last ten outings. Stony Brook, the defending league champion, finishes the season at 10-7-3. The Seawolves defeated UMBC, 2-0, in the 2009 championship game.
Senior midfielder Levi Houapeu (Germantown, Md./Watkins Mill) scored twice – his league-leading 13th and 14th goals of the season – to tie an America East Championship record, and sophomore defender Liam Paddock (Worchestershire, England) headed in the game-winner with seven seconds remaining in the first period.
Stony Brook took a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute on a goal by Raphael Abreu. UMBC netminder Dan Louisignau (Wilmington, Del./Concord/U. Virginia) punched out a long serve by a Seawolf defender, but it went directly to Abreu, who knocked it into the left corner of the net from 16 yards away.
The visitors frustrated UMBC for much of the first half until the late stages of the stanza. But in the 36th minute, junior back Andy Streilein (Rockville, Md./Thomas S. Wootton/U. Delaware) took a free kick from UMBC's half of the field and senior midfielder Chris Willams (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall) flicked it forward from the 25-yard line. The ball skipped over a pair of players and was settled by Houapeu, who wheeled and blasted a 12-yard shot into the upper right corner.
The Retrievers would then score twice in the final 90 seconds of the half. First, senior midfielder Dustin Dzwonkowski (Baltimore,Md./Archbishop Curley) played a ball down the left side of the field to Houapeu. The America East Striker of the Year eluded two defenders, cut into the box and hit a shot off the inside of the right post and into the net from nine yards out.
With seven seconds remaining in the half, UMBC struck again. Junior midfielder Andrew Bulls (Millersville, Md./McDonogh) hit a free kick from deep on the left wing and Paddock headed it by SBU netminder Stefan Manz from six yards away.
Stony Brook narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the 57th minute as after a scramble at the right post, Louisignau tried to punch a loose ball out of danger, but it went into the far left corner of the cage.
The Seawolves outshot UMBC, 10-6, in the second half and nearly tied the score with 3:11 to play, when Seringe Syalla's chip from short range hit the crossbar and Abreu was thrwarted by Louisignau on the rebound.
New Hampshire scored in the first overtime period to defeat top-seeded Boston University for the second time this year to earn a berth in the title game. The Retrievers and Wildcats played to a scoreless tie in Durham, N.H. on Oct. 9.
Houapeu's spectacular two-goal effort is his sixth career multi-goal game and he now has 29 goals in the last two seasons. His 84 career points is now fourth in school history.
UMBC last hosted a conference title match in 1999, when they defeated Mount St. Mary's, 2-1, to win the Northeast Conference crown. After advancing on penalty kicks in an NCAA Play-In game at Lafayette, the Retrievers played in their lone NCAA Division I Tournament and dropped a 4-3 overtime decision at top-ranked Duke.