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Men’s soccer exits in first round of CAA tournament

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Men’s soccer exits in first round of CAA tournament

Brian Bae

Brian Bae

Brian Bae

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By Mike Puzzanghera, news staff

Playing in their first Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament game since 2014, the Northeastern men’s soccer team (6-9-1, 3-4-1 CAA) fell in a first round 1-0 loss to Hofstra (9-6-4, 5-2-1) in their final game of the season.

The only goal came from second-year forward Matthew Vowinkel, as he headed in a cross from sophomore midfielder/defender Storm Strongin in the 52nd minute. As Strongin was pinned over by the left corner flag, he found enough space to put a cross into the box. Vowinkel rose above the Husky defenders and headed the ball into the right hand corner of the net, just out of reach of the keeper.

The Huskies created nine shots throughout the course of the game, all coming during the second half, including two chances within the final minutes. The late chances came from fourth-year defender Moustapha Samb and second-year forward Alec Supinski, who both put headers on goal kept out by Hofstra. They outshot Hofstra in the second half nine to three as they pushed on to make a comeback.

“We looked a little bit tired because I think we put a lot of energy into qualifying and beating UNCW on Tuesday. So we knew it was going to be a little bit difficult to play with that intensity on Tuesday and then play with the same intensity on Saturday,” head coach Chris Gbandi said. “I thought after they scored, we played pretty well, but it was just one of those games where we just couldn’t connect the final ball or connect in terms of creating enough chances to tie the score.”

The Huskies’ CAA tournament berth is their first since 2014 and the first under Gbandi.

First-year forward Ryan Massoud led the team this season in goals and points, with five goals and 11 points in his debut season. Samb and fourth-year defender Martin Nygaard finished tied for second in points with six apiece.

Standout members of the team also received recognition in terms of CAA awards. Massoud was named to the All-Rookie team after his impressive season. Nygaard and fifth-year forward Harry Swartz were named to the All-CAA second team, while Samb was chosen as a member of the All-CAA third team.

Nygaard, Swartz and Samb are three of the six seniors departing the team this year. Also leaving are fourth-year midfielder Gerardo Milano, fourth-year midfielder Kevin Carvalho and fourth-year midfielder Chris Flores.

“I think obviously from a soccer perspective you miss a lot because they’re all very good players,” Gbandi said. “I think what you miss most about them is just their leadership qualities. They all lead this group so, so well and for us to be able to replace that is going to be so important for us next year.”

They finish the season with a 6-9-1 record overall, with five of those six wins coming at Parsons Field.

“I think all in all it was a progression, moving in the right direction, taking the next step as a program,” Gbandi said. “I think the guys have been working so hard and it’s just so important for other people because we as coaches see it and I think their teammates see it, and I think just now, getting into the conference tournament, other people are now seeing that at least we’re moving things in the right direction.”

The Huskies don’t play again until 2019, but they are hopeful looking ahead.

“I don’t know if a lot of people know because we don’t talk about it that much but we did have three or four guys that technically could be starters or competing for starting spots that were injured this year,” said Gbandi. “All of those guys are young guys and they’re all coming back next year so were super excited about that. I think we believe just getting to the conference tournament, you get that confidence and now you can build off that for next year because at least the guys are experienced and hopefully we can try to surpass that next year.”

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