The University of Rhode Island Men’s Soccer team played their first game in over a week on Tuesday night, when they beat the College of the Holy Cross in a contest under the lights by a score of 1-0 at the URI Soccer Complex.
Rhode Island was without three usual starters – Max Kwitchoff and Isak Oystese were out with injuries and Michael Hofstetter was serving a red-card suspension from the previous loss to Providence on Sept. 4.
The game began as a back and forth battle, with heavy action in the middle third of the field. Rhode Island had the majority of possession, often invading Holy Cross territory but nothing prevailed until the seventh minute when Rhode Island’s redshirt first-year Brett Schwab launched a shot just over the crossbar, narrowly missing what would have been his first goal of the season.
However, just one minute after, third-year Ivan Montoro recorded a key takeaway at midfield, launching it by the Holy Cross goalkeeper and into the back of the net from nearly midfield to record his first goal of the season and move the score to 1-0 Rhode Island.
Shortly after, third-year Íñigo Etxegarai of Rhode Island almost increased the lead to two goals, but Jad Smaira of Holy Cross kept the ball just in front of the goal line and saved a sure goal for the Rams.
On the opposite end of the field just a few minutes later, Holy Cross recorded two straight corner kicks, almost scoring off both. Holy Cross’ Evan Jones missed the net on the first and Rhode Island’s Edu Rodriguez recorded a save off a deflection on the second.
Rhode Island had several chances to extend the lead in the rest of the first half. third-year Kevin Castaneda and Schwab both missed the net from just outside the box with around 26 minutes left in the half and with ten minutes left, a long blast from third-year Patrick Gryczewski was stopped.
Finally, Gryczewski almost had a chance on a breakaway but was called offside in the final minute of the half, much to the dismay of the home fans.
Three minutes into the second half, Rhode Island nearly tallied another goal. First-year Mathias Taylor knocked on off the crossbar from just outside the box and Rhode Island’s lead remained at one.
Rhode Island then launched multiple shots on goals in a short period of time. First-year Brandon Bermingham and Grychewski both had their low line drive attempts knocked away, in the 54th and 55th minute.
Across the field, Holy Cross’ Ethan Gill had a golden opportunity inside the box in the 59th minute before Rodriguez charged out for Rhode Island to make a sliding stop and protect the slim 1-0 lead.
Holy Cross’ Ryan Donovan then had another chance, but missed the net from a sharp angle on the right side with 25 minutes left in the second half.
The game became a back and forth affair for a while, with both teams launching attacks that were all thwarted by the defense on both sides.
However, after a long stalemate of nearly 20 minutes, Jones entered the box with the ball with four minutes remaining, but Rhode Island’s Vetle Nilsen ran all the way back and negated the last minute attack.
Matt McGonigle of Holy Cross nearly scored on a free kick with three minutes left but Rodriguez rose above the crowd in front of the net and punched the ball away from danger, clinching a 1-0 victory for the Rams.
Following the game, Associate Head Coach Tony Bassett touched on the absence of three regular starters and how that affected the game and the outcome.
“Our sort of team mentality is always next man up,” Basset said. “So it gives all of these younger players or players that aren’t playing a lot an opportunity to showcase what they can do and a lot of guys that don’t get that much playing time got to play today.”
Both Schwab and first-year Nate Yurkovic made the first starts of their career and got valuable minutes. Yurkovic played over half the game and Schwab ended up playing the entire 90 minutes.
As a team, the Rams totaled 14 shots and landed six on goal, amounting to only one goal. However, Bassett was not concerned with the offensive inefficiency.
“We’re more concerned with creating chances,” Bassett said. “If we’re creating chances, the opportunity to score goals is going to happen. So the fact that we’re getting it in the attacking third and getting shots off is positive, obviously we’d like more on frame, but I think it’s less concern about the quality of the shot and more of are we creating chances to score goals.”
The lone goal of the game came from Montoro when he intercepted the ball from the back line and scored from just in front of midfield. After the game, Montoro detailed the play that set up the only tally of the game for either side.
“It was a good turnover,” Montoro said. “We needed the possession… we had to take that chance,” Montoro said.
Next up, Rhode Island is back in action Saturday Night in Ohio when they take on the Dayton Flyers at 7 p.m. to open their Atlantic 10 conference slate.