BY TYLER MILLIKEN // Oct. 9, 2016 //
The men’s soccer team captured their first Commonwealth Coast Conference victory Saturday over the University of New England, 2-1.
Both teams came into yesterday’s matchup without a win in conference play, and fresh off a victory to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Colonels, coming off a hard-fought 1-0 decision over Lasell, looked to grab a pair of consecutive victories for the first time since September 3 and 4. The Nor’easters entered the ring 2-8 overall and collected a home shutout of their own on Tuesday.
Starting from the opening whistle, Curry took complete control offensively and scored just 19 seconds into the game.
Senior Steven DePina scorched a ball into the back of the net, registering his second goal of the season. Junior forward Ben Silvia set up DePina flawlessly, collecting his second assist of the 2016 campaign. It was just enough wind behind their sails to outhustle UNE all over the field.
The Colonels’ defense made their authority known early, disrupting a number of plays throughout the field. Junior midfielder Roy Butlin seemed to be everyone you looked, delivering a number of slide tackles that jarred the ball loose. He complemented that by vocally leading the defensive counterstrike.
There was a brief moment in the 23rd moment where Butlin came in a bit late with a slide and let his emotions get the best of him after he was penalized on the play. It resulted in a yellow card, but his teammates helped regain his focus rather quickly.
It wasn’t too long until Curry found itself increasing their lead once again after sophomore midfielder Christian Mancini scored his second goal of the season on a battered ball in front of the net. At this point, there were only 17 minutes left in the first half, and the Colonels were oozing with confidence.
Curry sustained their attack for the rest of the half on their way to outshooting the Nor’easters 8-1 by intermission.
The second half got underway and the Colonels were content with maintaining possession in order to douse UNE’s attempts to gain energy. There was no more consistently aggressive play from Curry, and it took a few minutes for the entire team to adjust to the new style. Both teams struggled to get up and down the field, and as time went on, the Nor’easters began to show frustration.
Some extra shoving became apparent as the clock continued to drip, making the Colonels’ lead more insurmountable as the seconds fell. With about 28 minutes left in the game, UNE midfielder Ryan Stephens created a great shot on net, but it ricocheted off the crossbar and landed out of play.
Teammates of Stephens became discouraged after squandering such a great chance, and their head coach Peter Ostergaard let them hear it from the sidelines.
As the Nor’easters continued to press heavily, a handful of mental mistakes on shot attempts held them back. UNE outshot the Colonels 10-1 in the second half but had nothing to show for it. Opportunity after opportunity fell by the wayside, and there’s only so many each team is given on a single day.
No noise would be made by either team until there was a little over eight minutes left when Curry became a little sloppy on defense. Stephens, who just missed a goal, got his revenge when he got by a few defenders and booted a ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the season. UNE couldn’t get too excited, still trailing with only minutes to play.
This was the wake-up call the Colonels needed as the game neared a finish. The defense cleared the ball multiple times to finally bleed the clock dry in order to secure the lead they worked so hard to create.
DePina noted after that game that they know they can be better. “We know we are a good team…when we’re playing our best, no other team in our conference can beat us. We’ve seen it against Roger Williams, and we’ve seen it against Lasell. No one can play with us when we’re confident.”
Not so Mellow-Yellow: Emotions ran high on the field during the final minutes, and Curry’s Hunter Duval and UNE’s Colin Madigan both earned yellow cards for their extra-curricular activities after a fight for the ball.
Identity Check: As the season winds down, it seems as if the Colonels are finally forming an identity. Even though it has taken a while to get to this point, it’s obvious this team is truly invested after facing so many struggles at the start of their journey.
Hit the road Jack!: The Colonels will travel to Westfield State for their next matchup, as they look to improve their record to 6-8-1 on the season. A victory would be the third in as many games, which is called a winning streak, and yes it has happened before.