By Section Editor
The Union Men’s Soccer team returned to action this week with a non-league game against The Sage Colleges in Albany, N.Y. Having missed battling it out last year at College Park due to inclement weather, the two squads were eager to have a crack at each other on a wet and chilly Tuesday night.
Coming off of a sloppy, yet fulfilling draw over the weekend against perennial Top-25 team SUNY Plattsburgh, the Dutchmen were eager to get back to winning against a tricky, but beatable team in Sage College.
Despite Sage playing at a neutral venue in Albany, the Gators came out ready to play and continuously disrupted Union’s pass-oriented style of play.
Despite having a fair share of the ball’s possession, Union just could not find its groove, as the Gators embarked on counter-attack after counter-attack.
Eventually the pressure paid off, as Sage gained a lead after 34 minutes of play thanks to forward Elhadj Kourouma. Receiving the ball from Sage’s Gustavo Trinidad, the freshman forward coolly slotted home to give the Gators a well-deserved lead.
Regardless of the goal late in the first-half, the Dutchmen came out firing in the second half and completely took over the game.
It seemed as though the half-time team talk must have been arousing, as the team came out firing on all cylinders.
From the minute the second half whistle blew, it was clear that Union had found its footing in the game, and started knocking the ball around with supreme confidence.
Despite having a lion’s share of the possession, the team could not find a way past Gator goalkeeper, Tim Madden. However, on the 75th minute mark, the Dutchmen found a breakthrough off a set piece.
Kevin Janson ‘14 whipped in a sumptuous cross from the corner, which was met in full flight by sophomore midfielder Jeff Cohen for his first goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, the Dutchmen took the lead for good as senior forward and captain Dean Constant ‘14 slotted home his second goal of the season.
Constant’s partner in coach Jeff Guinn’s 4-3-3 formation, forward Carl Faber ‘16, provided the assist on the goal off another corner.
The away win provided a much-needed confidence boost before embarking on a road-trip to the north country to play the physical SUNY Canton team.
The game against the Kangaroos proved to be another tough non-conference game for the Dutchmen, yet like so many of their first games, the lads were able to pull out another win to remain undefeated in the season (6-0-1).
Union enjoyed a lion’s share of possession yet again to start the game, but like against SUNY Plattsburgh, the Dutchmen fell behind 1-0 after a goal by Tyler Gallagher.
However, the team responded rapidly and was level again within minutes thanks to a cool finish by senior captain Nick Vozzella after a terrific through ball by Constant. Constant provided yet another assist minutes before the interval, this time to forward Faber, who notched his fifth goal of the season.
The Roos leveled the game again after 67 minutes of play, when Nick Escalante tapped in Devin Gruneisen’s cross from six yards from the goal.
The two teams battled it out for the remaining 23 minutes of the game, with neither team finding a breakthrough, since both keepers were playing some inspired soccer.
Going into overtime, neither team wanted to slip up and suffer a heart-breaking loss, thus play was a little tense at the beginning of overtime. With just a few minutes left in the first overtime, Constant used his wealth of experience to score the game-winning goal.
Just as in the previous game, Janson whipped in an excellent cross from the corner, which was met from six yards out by Constant for another excellent win.
The Dutchmen look to maintain their unblemished record against another SUNY team, the Hawks from New Paltz.
The Hawks have proved excellent opposition for the Dutchmen in previous years, with the series reading 2-1 in Union’s favor since 2009.
The Dutchmen have yet to lose on the road this season, therefore they will be brimming with confidence to earn another tally in the win column before the start of the all-important league play.
League play will provide a completely different challenge than non-league play, as the intensity and pressure increase dramatically.
The challenge for the Dutchmen over the next few weeks will be to keep their play at a high level to tackle the brutal upcoming Liberty League schedule.
Despite these approaching challenges, the team once again looks well-drilled and sharp, providing a great start to what potentially could be Coach Jeff Guinn’s 13th-straight winning season.