Levi Houapeu recorded a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Boston University
A few weeks ago if somebody would have said this game out have kept the loser out of the America East Conference tournament, that person would have been laughed out of the room. Both UMBC and Boston U were ranked in the national top 30 and were dominating competition. But once conference play started the two teams struggled.
The America East is a very physical conference and if a team trys to use their technique to win a game they tend to struggle because their opponents will just play rough to take them out of their offensive rhythm.
That has been the case for both teams during their conference season. UMBC lost a physical game in Vermont and then fell to 1-2 in conference play after another loss to New Hampshire (in between they beat Stony Brook). As for Boston U, they came into the season as the heavy favorites after returning many players from last years championship season. But like UMBC they struggled in conference play and the offense could not bail them out. They were 1-3 in conference play with three straight losses gong into the do-or-die match.
The two teams are very similar in style. They are technically sound and use their midfield to set the forwards up to score. The fact that the two teams are so similar shows for the majority of the game as there was no score for nearly the first 70 minutes.
In the 70th minute Boston University’s leading scorer Aaron O’Neal recorded his 10th goal the the season when Ade Akinsanya and Matthew Shea set him up for a goal.
But UMBC did not let the one goal deficit get them down. Less than one minute later the third leading scorer ing the nation, Levi Houapeu, knotted the game up with his 11th goal of the season off Dustin Dzwonkowski and Andrew Bulls.
Then four minutes later Dzwonkowski recorded his first goal of the season off a Houapeu assist to give UMBC the 2-1 lead, which stayed for the remainder of the game.
Junior midfielder Dustin Dzwonkowski recorded his first goal of the season against Boston University, which happened to be the game winner.
Even though UMBC was outshot 15-8, and had less corner kicks (9-1), they showed that when their back was against the wall they could get the job done.
A large part of that was the defense and Phil Saunders. Liam Paddock was back from his one game suspension due to recording five yellow cards, and Jason McCarron was back to playing healthy. Those two being able to provide effective defense along with Vince Savarese and Sean Rothe only forces Saunders to record four saves to get the win.
In his return from his one game suspension, center back Liam Paddock and the UMBC defense allowed just one goal.
UMBC returns to action on Saturday in their final home game of the season when they take on Albany at 1:00. If UMBC wins of tied any of their three remaining games they clinch a spot in the conference tournament.