15 Nov Vermont men’s soccer ends New Hampshire’s America East title reign
DURHAM, N.H. – The first goal the University of Vermont men’s soccer team scored this fall against rival New Hampshire put them in elite company — it was only the third time the powerhouse Wildcats trailed since their undefeated campaign began in August.
When the Catamounts bagged their second against the UNH, now ranked No. 6 in the country — well, UVM joined a class all its own.
This time, Yves Borie broke a scoreless deadlock with a mesmerizing volley in the 68th minute and second-seeded Vermont, as collected and composed as any game this season, made it stick, upsetting host New Hampshire 1-0 in the America East championship on Sunday in front of 5,357 at Wildcat Stadium.
“The first game against them we played a little bit scared. Today our goal was to press them, to play with courage and I think we did it today,” said Borie, the midfielder from Karlsruhe, Germany. “They had no chance against us today. We were better.”
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The result, UVM’s first league crown since 2015, sends the Catamounts (13-4-2) to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years and 11th overall.
Senior goalie Nate Silveira, the America East goalkeeper of the year, came up with a pair of saves to preserve the shutout — another first against New Hampshire this season — in the teams’ fourth clash since March 12.
“It was courage,” said Rob Dow, UVM’s fifth-year head coach. “They’re a really good team. UNH is really good. And they had more to lose in the game: The unblemished season, on their field, in the championship — the pressure was on them. All we needed to do was play committed, play level, and we knew we could win.”
Simple as it sounds in hindsight, beating the Wildcats (16-1-2), the three-time defending conference champions, was hardly a walk in the park.
New Hampshire entered the game as one of two unbeaten teams left in the nation. The Wildcats’ plus-36 goal differential was second-best in Division I, and their 0.38 goals-against average was tops in the land. They’d only lost once in 50 games at the Granite State’s largest venue.
And, more troubling for the visitors, Vermont hadn’t beaten UNH in their last six meetings.
“I think we forgot about the last six tries,” Dow said. “Our purpose today was to play the team that was in the state next to us and focus on the championship. … (Today) was our most complete performance of the season.”
That effort started in the heart of midfield, where Borie and Adrian Schulze Solano paired brilliantly to disrupt New Hampshire’s build-up play. The hosts managed just one shot on target in the first half, a right-footed attempt by Yannick Bright that Silveira pawed wide of the left post with a diving stop.
“I’d say four or five guys didn’t show up and play to their ability and (UVM) were very committed to continue to do what they do. And we didn’t match that,” UNH coach Marc Hubbard said.
“Going into halftime we talked about how we weren’t good enough and how we kind of got away at 0-0, but still had time to be able to do things,” Hubbard said. “It’s always a tight game against these guys and to come out, set-piece goal, we knew that was going to happen.”
That chance came following a foul in midfield. Nacho Lerech served the UVM free kick from distance that UNH’s Adam Savill headed away from the 6-yard box.
But Solano, named the tournament’s most outstanding player after the game, nodded the clearance into space to his right. It fell to Borie, who put his laces through the ball before it hit the turf and watched it peel away from UNH goalie Jassem Koleilat (two saves) into the top right corner.
“I saw Adrian got it with his head and thought, ‘Please get me the ball, I will score,’” Borie said of his fourth goal of the year. “It was a feeling like I knew I would score if I got the ball — and I scored. I was wide open. It’s really, really rare, but today was a good day.”
Of the eight goals New Hampshire has allowed this year, Borie has two of them. His first, on Oct. 16, gave UVM a lead that lasted just 44 seconds in the 1-1 draw.
And that’s from a player who Dow said usually doesn’t find the back of the net — even in practice.
“Yves never scores,” the UVM coach said. “He scored last game, he scored here, but in training? The balls go wide, skip off his foot. But he’s a winner. In big moments, he comes through. We’re glad he’s here with us.”
Vermont navigated the final 20 minutes with little drama, polishing off its biggest win of the year by watching the final seconds tick away and erupting in celebration. It was the second America East soccer final this month to unspool in such a fashion: The UVM women, playing at home, also used a second-half strike to best UNH 1-0 and reach the NCAA tournament.
New Hampshire is all but ensured of making its fifth consecutive NCAA trip, having started the week with a top-10 spot in the RPI standings. The Wildcats’ superb run this fall should provide them a seeded berth and first-round bye in the NCAA tournament.
UVM and UNH will find out where they land in the 48-team bracket on Monday.
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