Northeastern outclassed by New Hampshire in windy contest


Albert Tamura

The Northeastern men’s soccer team could not keep up with the New Hampshire Wildcats, after three goals in the first-half.

Dov Kaufman, news staff

The Northeastern men’s soccer team (0-2) were defeated by New Hampshire (2-0) in their first away game of the 2021 season, 4-2. A flurry of three first-half goals from the Wildcats proved too big of a mountain to climb for the Huskies. Second-half goals from sophomore defender Bernardo Gracindo and sophomore forward Timothy Ennin kept the scoreline close, but was ultimately not enough to see the Huskies to their first win of the season. 

New Hampshire entered the contest following a 2-1 overtime victory over UMass Lowell last weekend, and full of confidence. The 16th ranked team in the nation came out the gates with a sense of speed and urgency their opponents couldn’t seem to match. 

The Wildcats dominated the ball in the first half, and looked the more dangerous side when pushing forward. With a barrage of early chances, the granite-state outfit finally opened their home scoring account 13 minutes into the game through junior forward Tola Showumni. Freshman defender Yanick Bright played an absolute peach of a ball right over the Husky defense, finding sophomore midfielder Billal Kamal who cushioned it into the path of Showumni. 

Only a minute later, Showunmi added an assist to his goal; after a surging run down the left flank, the sophomore picked out Kamal in the box, who confidently slotted the ball in the bottom left corner with his left foot. The London-born midfielder put in a particularly impressive shift in the center of the park for the Wildcats.

New Hampshire added another goal only a dozen minutes later through sophomore midfielder Rory O’Driscoll. The former Minnesota Thunder man netted a thunderous freekick into the top left corner. O’Driscoll continues to build on a stellar start to the campaign, having scored the winning goal in overtime against UMass Lowell the previous week.

Highlights were few and far between for the Huskies in the first half, as they failed to register a shot on goal. Gbandi’s men, however, started the second half with a little more urgency and energy, but failed to really match New Hampshire’s intensity.

“They had the wind, and pushed forward and were able to get three goals. Second half, we had the wind, and were able to push forward a little bit and get two goals,” NU head coach Chris Gbandi said.

Gracindo offered the Huskies a way back into the game 25 minutes into the second half. A frenzy in the box following a long throw-in saw the ball fall to Gracindo’s feet, and the defender slammed the ball past the Wildcat keeper. New Hampshire responded quickly, however, with a goal of their own only 30 seconds later. 

Any chance of Northeastern salvaging a point was lost when graduate student forward Paul Mayer poked home the goal amidst a scramble in the box.

“I think if we look back on the game, even though they had three goals in the first half, I think the one that killed us was the fourth,” Gbandi said. “It took us out of touching distance.”

The Huskies scored a consolation goal with two minutes left in the tie; Ennin failed to score his penalty kick, but tapped home the rebound to make it 4-2.

“You learn from it, and I know I say this quite a bit with this group, we gotta keep learning from it, and keep our confidence high. I thought in the second half, it’s the team that we are; working hard, pressing, putting them under pressure. I do think the wind had a lot to play in the game, and at the end of the day, they dealt with it a little better then we did,” Gbandi said

Northeastern will travel to the University of Delaware (0-0) next Sunday, March 14, to face the Blue Hens for their first CAA conference match of the season.