Noam Kolakofsky controls the ball. Photo by James MacIntosh.
Saturday night was a frigid one in Kingston at the Soccer Complex with the temperature feeling like 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, for the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team, their attack was the hottest in the century.
Rhody put up seven goals in a game for the first time since 1999, winning 7-3 over the Davidson Wildcats in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. The defending champions moved onto the semifinals for the 6th straight season.
After going 12-3-2 in the regular season and 7-1 during conference play, the Rams earned the tournament’s number one seed and a home matchup in the first round of the conference tournament.
They wasted no time establishing who would be the better side. In only the second minute of the game, Defender Sondre Karterud continued his run from the right back position and latched onto a pass from Midfielder Noam Kolakofsky. Karterud finished the chance with the outside of his right foot, and scored the first goal on the night and the first goal of his college career.
Leading scorer Filippo Tamburini made it a two goal lead 25 minutes later. The striker, who drew plenty of fouls after rough treatment from the Davidson backline, touched home a free kick from Left Back Peder Kristiansen for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Kristiansen turned from provider to scorer later in the first half, this time scoring directly from a corner kick. His in-swinging corner curled right into the far post for his first goal of the season. While he doesn’t mean to score on every corner he takes, the left back did say the placement was deliberate.
“I try to it my corners in every time and dip it right into that spot,” he said. “It’s never happened to me before, so that was funny.”
Rhody would go on to score two more goals from corner kicks in the second half. Kristiansen played a ball into the box that fellow Captain Niklas Middrup was able to tap home, and later on Redshirt Sophomore Edvin Akselsen whipped in a ball that was converted by Center Back Charlie Booth. The team scored four goals in total from set pieces, a tactic the team looked at heading into the contest.
“We talked about it before the game that we could be able to score a couple of set piece goals because we are bigger than them,” said Kristiansen. “If people run the right way we’ll be able to put them in, so that was great.”
Every member of the starting defense got on the scoresheet for Rhody, and goalie Stefan Schmidt even got an assist. His punt was flicked on by Tamburini to the path of Winger Stavros Zarokostas, who after a fortunate bounce off the keeper was left to tap the ball into an empty net.
Akselsen got his second assist of the night for the last goal of the game, crossing a ball that Kolakofsky converted. It was his 12th assist of the season, putting him in a first place tie with Tanguy Guerineau of Oral Roberts for the NCAA lead.
Davidson scored all of their goals in the second half. They scored twice from the penalty spot, and Mateo Alzate scored his first collegiate goal after his rocket beat Schmidt on his near post.
Up next for the Rams is a date with Fordham in the conference semifinals on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. The semifinals and finals of the A-10 tournament will be held at Fordham University, creating an unfamiliar dynamic where URI is the home team at Fordham’s field. Kristiansen knows the importance of the matchup.
“It’s gonna be big,” he said. “But I think we have a very talented team, a very experienced team. That is our chance to get into the NCAA tournament and get into the ring one more time.”
The winner of the conference tournament will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. No team left in the tournament, including VCU and Davidson on the other side of the bracket, is projected to receive an at-large bid.