DURHAM, N.H. – The fifth-seeded University of New Hampshire men's soccer team will compete in the America East tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years, taking on fourth-seeded Binghamton University Saturday, November 6 (7 p.m.) at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
Binghamton leads the all-time series against New Hampshire, 6-3-2. The two squads have met in the postseason twice, with the Bearcats earning wins in both contests by a combined margin of 3-1. Their last meeting in the tournament came in 2008 when the third-seeded Bearcats defeated the sixth-seeded Wildcats, 3-1, at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
In their most recent matchup on Oct. 30, the Wildcats held the Bearcats scoreless for more than 105 minutes of play, but surrendered a goal in the 106th minute, when Tommy Klim notched his first goal of the season, giving Binghamton the 1-0 lead and their first win in three games.
Colin O'Donnell (Hampden, Mass.) led UNH, tying a career-high with seven saves in the loss. Despite giving up a goal in the contest, O'Donnell had not surrendered a goal in over 248 minutes of play.
This season he has been a rock in net, earning the America East Goalkeeper of the Year award and garnering All-Conference First Team honors for the second consecutive year. He has appeared in 14 games, including 13 starts for New Hampshire this year. He tops the America East in goals against average (0.52), save percentage (.887) and shutouts (7). He also ranks second in both saves (62) and saves per game (4.43). Additionally, the netminder ranks 6th and 9th nationally in save percentage and GAA, respectively.
O'Donnell and the rest of the UNH goalkeepers have been protected by a stellar group of backs, a list that includes Greg Brown (Salem, N.H.), Joe Corsello (York, Maine), Robin Gerum (Gothenburg, Sweden), Alex Russell (Harrisburg, Pa.), Turner Davis (Barrington, R.I.), Alex Hussein (Haverhill, Mass.), Ryan McNabb (Downingtown, Pa.) and All-Rookie Team honoree Jeffrey Turner (Blandon, Pa.). The group helped contribute to a Wildcat defense that has posted a goals against average of 0.50 and eight shutouts in the regular season, both top honors in the conference.
Offensively the 'Cats have been led by All-Conference Second Team honoree Brad Hilton (Merrimack, N.H.) and All-Rookie Team honoree Steven Palumbo (Kingston, N.H.), who finish the regular season tied for the team lead in points with eight apiece.
Hilton has started in 16 games this season, notching three goals and two assists. He has tallied a pair of game-winning goals in back-to-back efforts against Presbyterian (Sept. 12) and Bryant (Sept. 22). He also registered a goal in UNH's 2-1 win over Boston University (Oct. 23), helping hand the Terriers their only loss in conference play this season. Additionally, the midfielder posted an assist in a win against Bryant and in a tie versus Cornell (Sept. 10).
Palumbo headlines UNH's rookie class, netting America East Rookie of the Week honors in each of the last two weeks. He finishes the regular season with three goals and two assists. The midfielder scored his second consecutive game-winning goal in extended play, finding the back of the net just over a minute into overtime to lift the 'Cats to a 1-0 victory over Albany (Oct. 27). For Palumbo, the goal was his third game-winner this year, as he also tallied winners against Boston University (Oct. 23) and Central Connecticut State (Sept. 6). Additionally, he notched an assist in New Hampshire's win over BU, while also tallying a helper in a 2-1 win over Bryant (Sept. 22).
The winner of Saturday's quarterfinal matchup will advance to the semifinals of the America East Tournament to face No. 1 Boston University Wednesday, November 10 at Nickerson Field, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.