Photo by Joseph Lachance | URI’s Sondre Karterud takes the ball downfield, fending off University of Dayton.
There is an old sports cliche that says ‘what makes a team great is the ability to win games in a multitude of ways.’ The Rhode Island men’s soccer team proved that to be true this week, winning two home games in contrasting styles.
The Rams had their first home game of the week last Wednesday night against the University of Massachusetts. UMass began the game on the front foot, with center back Konrad Gorich tapping the ball in from close range to give the Minutemen the lead.
Three minutes later, the lead doubled. Deandre Brown, the second leading scorer in the Atlantic 10, notched his seventh goal of the season. For Rhody, it was the first time this season they had trailed by two goals at home. URI head coach Coach Gareth Elliott joked after the match “I told them to get off to a fast start, but obviously they did the opposite.”
URI capitalized on a corner kick in the 28th minute to get back into the match. Senior Chae Brangman pounced on a loose ball in the box for his third goal of the season, cutting the advantage held by UMass in half.
The score was back to even in the 35th minute courtesy of junior forward Stavros Zarokostas. After receiving the ball with his back to the goal, he turned inside the box and rifled a shot into the upper 90 with his right foot. His sixth goal of the season made the it 2-2 heading into halftime.
Rhody completed the comeback in the 67th minute from the penalty spot. A handball was called in the box, and Captain Dominik Richter stepped up to cooly slot the ball into the net, giving the Rams a lead that wouldn’t be relented.
Speaking after the game, Coach Elliot was impressed with the comeback. “It shows good character. It wasn’t pretty, certainly not our best game of the season, but I was proud of the way they fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.”
A dramatic comeback was not needed on the Saturday night fixture against the University of Dayton. While both teams had minor chances, a closely contested first half saw no goals for either side.
Fortunes changed in the second half as Brangman scored for the second time in as many games from an easy tap-in. The Flyers then began to assert themselves in the match, and were rewarded for their toils with a goal in the 75th minute by freshman Jake Feiner, the first of his career.
With both teams looking for a winner, it was redshirt freshmen Edvin Akselselsen who answered the bell for URI. The winger from Oslo, Norway met the cross of midfielder Emil Jesman Sunde, and his looping header nestled into the back post to put the Rams in front 2-1.
While pressing for a late equalizer, Dayton left themselves exposed in defence, a detail that was not forgotten by Rhody. The aforementioned Akselsen dribbled around the goalie in the last minute of the game that resulted in his sixth goal of the season. The 3-1 win improved the Rams record to 10-2 on the season.
With two goals and one assist across the homestand, Edvin Ackselson captured A-10 Rookie of the Week for the second consecutive week. He’ll look to continue his hot form as the Rams travel to Duquesne University on Saturday before coming back home to play Boston College on Tuesday night.