The University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team won both of their matches this past week in two home contests in Kingston on Thursday and Sunday.
URI took down the Bryant Bulldogs on Thursday night and the Marist Red Foxes on Sunday afternoon. With the victories, all of Rhode Island’s three total wins come at home at the URI Soccer Complex. The Rams sport a 3-1 overall record this season in Kingston.
The Rams were in need of a strong performance on Thursday night as they were coming off of two straight losses including a 2-1 double overtime loss to No. 24 Providence College. Rhode Island lost the match with 10 seconds left in the second overtime.
Rhode Island’s first win of the week was a 4-0 win against Bryant. Chae Brangman, who had two goals and an assist, led the Rams offensive attack. The Rams offense outshot the Bulldogs 15-8. With the victory, URI advanced to 2-2 on the season.
“It shows that we are able to overcome adversity,” Rams Head Coach Gareth Elliott said about his team bouncing back after the loss to Providence. “To be able to put that behind us and move on quickly to another in-state rival in Bryant, who are always very competitive, and be able to put up four goals was great.”
The next game Rhode Island played this week came on Sunday, September 10. URI, for the third time this season, shutout their opponent with a 3-0 victory over Marist. Rhody’s offense took the lead late in the first half when Evan Gaudreau headed in a goal on a crossing pass from Emil Jesman Sunde. URI carried the 1-0 advantage into the second half.
The Rams got goals from sophomore Stavros Zarokostas and senior Ryan Bailey in the second half and won the contest by a final of 3-0.
With two shutout victories this week, Rhode Island’s goaltender, Nils Leifhelm, was named the Atlantic 10 Conference’s defensive player of the week. So far this season in all three of Rhode Island’s victories, Leifhelm has yet to allow a goal. In those games Leifhelm’s offense is outscoring opponents 10-0.
“Nils has performed at a very high level for us this year,” Elliott said. “We believe he is a professional prospect and he knows that. He knows that he has to perform game in and game out at that level if he wants a chance to get a professional contract.”
Only six goals have snuck by Leifhelm this season. The Münster, Germany native, has saved 78.6 percent of shots that have been taken at him.
With URI picked to finish fifth in the A10 men’s soccer preseason poll the impressive start for Leifhelm certainly puts the Rams in a strong position to compete in the conference.
Following the successful week, Rhode Island soccer now holds an overall record of 3-2 and will head on the road to take on the University of New Hampshire on Saturday.
Including the matchup against UNH, Rhody has four games left in their nonconference slate before the A10 opener against George Washington on September 30. Rhode Island returns home on Tuesday, September 19 to take on the Harvard Crimson at the URI Soccer Complex at 7 p.m.