Tudela lifts UNH in OT
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 01:09
It took 97 minutes for the first and only goal to be scored at Bremner Field Saturday night as the University of New Hampshire men’s soccer team won in exciting overtime fashion, 1-0, against visiting Grand Canyon University.
At the 7:06 mark of the overtime frame, sophomore standout Jesus Tudela lifted UNH to victory with his second goal of the season and second in as many games.
David Schlatter, a junior forward played the ball in from outside the box and found teammate Tudela not far from the goal. Tudela then turned and ripped a shot to the low right corner past Grand Canyon goalkeeper Joshua Zehring to seal the deal.
Tudela was all cheers as he sprinted towards the middle of the field to meet a rush of teammates as the New Hampshire bench cleared in excitement.
“It’s always good to make a good touch and I know when I do make a good touch it’s going in,” Tudela said. “I saw the opening, secured the ball and took the shot. Happy it went in.”
It has been a big step for Tudela from last season that didn’t see much playing time, but has been one of the team’s biggest impacts this year as he leads the team in scoring with two goals and two assists for six points.
“I’m getting a lot of playing time, and it feels good. I’m not tired when I am out there, so I’m feeling great right now,” Tudela said.
New Hampshire is running hot right now as it heads into next week with a 5-2 overall record and have won four of its last five games. It has shutout the opposing team four times during that span. Defense has been the team’s strongest point this season and has been the most disciplined area of focus in head coach Rob Thompson’s reign.
A good defense is critical to any team’s success, and it all starts with a solid goalkeeper. Travis Worra, a junior and starting goalkeeper for the Wildcats is an example of a consistent goalkeeper and has put on a great display as of late that contributes to the successful run.
“For us to go out, work hard and grind out a win is perfect. Its UNH-style soccer,” Worra said. “The game was a hard-fought battle. They were a lot better than we anticipated, but any Division 1 college soccer team is going to be tough. To grind out in overtime, win, get another shutout doing the things we do well tonight, it’s good to get the win.”
With one game left before conference play, Worra and the rest of the team look to continue their momentum.
“This is the most important game so far this season even though every game is important, but it’s always a huge game right before conference play starts,” Worra said. “It’s going to be tough down in Hofstra, but if we can come back with a win it will be a huge momentum gain heading into conference play.”
Thompson was happy with the outcome of the game.
“I thought Grand Canyon was pretty good to be honest,” Thompson said. “They are a good, passing team, have good quickness, and caused some problems tactically for us. I felt like it was a good game; close and competitive.”
In the first half, the opposing Antelopes kept disrupting the passing lanes and were always on the heels of their opponents, causing a struggle for the Wildcats to move the ball efficiently.
“I just didn’t like us in the first half,” Thompson said. “We didn’t have any idea what was going [on]and couldn’t establish a tempo to move the ball well, because we kept moving it side to side. We tried to get more vertical up and down in the second half, and the players implemented right away. We were deserving of a goal in the second half, but we got it in overtime.”
New Hampshire has depth all around, and the freshmen class has contributed to it by having two of the three top offensive leaders on the team.
“We have a team that has a collective attitude,” Thompson said. “We have good depth; we don’t have to rely on anyone to pull through for us. We are a team and that’s important our team is winning, and not focusing on one person.”
Heading into its next game, New Hampshire will polish the things that need work and keep doing the things they are doing well.
“We need to continue to reemphasize the things we do and stay away from the things we are not good at,” Thompson said. “It’s important to do things well, and Hofstra is a good team, which will be a tough game on the road because it’s not an easy place to play at. The goal is to put out a product out there that does well.”
The squad returns to action when it travels to Hofstra on Saturday, Sept. 28, for an afternoon match. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.