DURHAM, N.H. - Senior Ryan DiNunzio (Kenmore, NY) scored exactly one minute into the first overtime to lead the University of New Hampshire men's soccer team to a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Drexel University Friday at Lewis Fields and keep the Wildcats in the hunt for a berth in the upcoming America East tournament.
DiNunzio, who also scored the game-tying goal late in regulation, took a feed from sophomore forward Josh Hareld (North Kingstown, R.I.), burst down the right wing past a Dragons defender, and beat Drexel goalie John Hutchins with a line-drive shot just inside the near post.
The victory improved the Wildcats record to 6-7-3 overall and 4-4-2 in league play. UNH temporarily moves into the sixth playoff spot with 14 points, one ahead of Delaware and two in front of Albany. Both the Blue Hens (@ Boston University) and Great Danes (vs. Hartford) play later on Friday. Both teams hold the head-to-head tie-breaker against UNH should either one finished locked with the Wildcats in the America East standings.
The win was also the 49th of head coach Rob Thompson's career, which puts him first on the all-time list at UNH. Thompson surpassed the 48 wins his predecessor Mike Noonan amassed while at the helm of the 'Cats from 1991-94.
Down 2-0 with under 10 minutes remaining in the second half, the 'Cats clawed their way back into the game when sophomore back Brendan Hankard (Glastonbury, Conn.), moved forward from his sweeper position, scored off an indirect kick from senior Andy Karam (Schenectady, NY) at 80:23 to make it a one-goal game. UNH kept the pressure on and netted the equalizer when DiNunzio beat Hutchins five-hold with a hard grounder at 84:15.
Drexel took a 2-0 first-half lead on goals by Daniel Zajac and Pete Pittaoulis. Zajac scored his goal off pinpoint feeds from Ryan Caldwell and Jim Costello eight minutes into the match. Pittaoulis made it 2-0 at 30:41 when he headed in a crossing pass from Costello.
The Wildcats had 12 first half shots but couldn't get on the scoreboard despite several golden opportunities. Shortly before Zajac's goal, UNH midfielder Nicholas Mello (Rehoboth, Mass.) hit the crossbar with a hard shot. Moments later, Mello blasted a shot that Hutchins needed to dive for to make a sprawling save. Sophomore Matt Glode (Barrington, NH) had a chance from 15 yards out later in the first half, but couldn't get enough on his shot to beat Hutchins.
UNH outshot the Dragons, 30-21, including 18-10 in the second half and overtime periods. Freshman Chad Green (Canyon, Texas), in net because regular starter Shaun O'Neil (Wrentham, Mass.) broke his foot against Delaware last weekend, made two saves in picking up the win in his first career start. Hutchins stopped four Wildcat shots for the Dragons.
UNH, which is now 3-0-3 in overtime games this season, plays it final regular-season game Sunday (11/4) vs. Hofstra at Lewis Fields. The game will mark the final home game for Wildcat seniors Tyler Tibbs (Beaverton, Ore.), O'Neil, DiNunzio, Ken Hayner (Charlton, NY) and Karam. Game time is 1 p.m.