Dave Nigro UMBC 9 10

Men’s Soccer Fights Back, but Falls to UMBC

Dave Nigro UMBC 9 10After coming from two goals down to draw level on 54 minutes, Monmouth men’s soccer was defeated by UMBC at the Retriever Soccer Park in Baltimore, Maryland by a score of 3-2 on Saturday night.

“The guys showed a lot of character bouncing back against a team that made the Final Four two years ago and creating a lot of chances in the second half,” said Monmouth head coach Robert McCourt. “We made two mistakes early and UMBC punished us on both mistakes.”

It took just two minutes for the hosts to open the scoring after freshman forward Tre Pulliam ran onto a long through ball and held off Hawks junior defender Joey Gudzak before slotting past junior goalkeeper Chris Seager.

The Retrievers doubled their lead a little over fifteen minutes later when junior midfielder Sammy Kahsai bent a free kick into the top left corner of the net from twenty yards, leaving Seager with no chance.

Early on in the second half, Monmouth found their feet with a pair of goals from senior forward Dave Nigro and junior midfielder Colin Stripling; the latter’s headed finish spurred from a corner kick.

Nearly sixty seconds later however, UMBC took their lead back through senior midfielder Christian Morales. A quick combination of passes saw Morales with his back to goal within the penalty area before turning and using his right foot to swing the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

The Hawks continued to press for an equalizer, but the final whistle blew and UMBC were 3-2 winners. Having met on Saturday for the first time since 2002, the Retrievers improved to 7-0-0 all-time against Monmouth.

With the loss, Monmouth remains winless at 0-3-2 and UMBC picks up their first win of the season, improving to 1-1-2.

Monmouth men’s soccer has had a rough start to their 2016 season, and there has been a pattern within their results. The Hawks kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw versus 15-ranked Denver in heartbreaking fashion. Stripling saw his 37th minute penalty kick equalized in the 89th minute by Graham Smith.

“We were questioning the team’s makeup a bit in preseason. But we came out and played against a team that’s nationally-ranked in every poll and we got a draw at home,” McCourt said. “We had to sit in a little bit in the second half, but we really created some exciting chances. When we were sitting in, it was a little bit boring for the fans to watch. But we had some great chances in the first half and great chances in overtime, so I think it was exciting for the great group of fans we had today.”

Monmouth suffered a hefty 3-0 defeat at the hands of UMass Lowell in West Long Branch. They then shared the spoils with Hartford on the road, 1-1 in double overtime, before being beaten 3-0 again, this time to Colgate.

The Hawks will be on the hunt for their first win on the season tonight where they face Columbia at Hesse Field on The Great Lawn in West Long Branch at 7 p.m. The match will be available to stream on ESPN3.

PHOTO COURTESY of Mark Brown/B51 Photography