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BALTIMORE - Despite a two-hour weather delay, head coach Steve Nichols earned his first career win Tuesday night, as the Loyola University Maryland men’s soccer team beat Howard, 1-0, in its 2014 home opener at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Senior Connor Thompson’s goal in the 22nd minute proved to be the game-winner, while transfer sophomore Matt Sanchez recorded his first shutout as a Greyhound.
“It was a long night with the delay, but it was worth it,” Nichols said. “I’m a little disappointed in our quality of play, but a win is a win.”
Thompson became the first Greyhound to find the back of the net this season when he finished a deflected through ball from Vogel in the 22nd minute. Sophomore Ryan Tuck started the play by booting a ball from the back line ahead, which sophomore Brennan Goldsmith took and got to Thompson. The forward tapped it to Vogel in the center of the field and the two went 2-vs-3 with Howard’s defenders. Vogel dribbled and was able to get a pass through the Bison back to Thompson, who sent a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.
“Connor and Laurin are both very talented and make for a great combination,” Nichols said. “They should have had a few more goals tonight, but that was a great finish by Connor.”
Vogel and Thompson almost teamed for a second goal in the 31st minute when Vogel again threaded a pass between defenders, finding Thompson in the middle of the box, but his shot just missed hitting the right post.
Howard had its best chance in the 35th minute when Kyle Celestine headed a cross toward goal from inside the box, but Sanchez was there to make the diving save.
When play resumed after almost two hours of a weather delay, the Greyhounds created two quick scoring opportunities to close out what was left of the first half. The first chance came in the 44th minute when senior Joseph Cahalan freed himself from the group and was able to get a head on freshman Brad Warenicz’s free kick, but the attempt went just left of the goal post.
Warenicz then had a shot blocked in the 45th minute from inside the box to close out the half.
After a series of offsides calls, Loyola’s first scoring chance in the second half came when Thompson found Vogel wide-open on the left wing. Vogel dribbled up field and went one-on-one with the goalkeeper, Eric Hamilton, before being tripped up in the box, halting the play.
Vogel also had another chance in the 88th minute when he connected on senior Joey Wilkins’ cross, but Hamilton came up with the save.
Throughout the game, the Greyhounds outshot the Bison, 9-5, while Howard held a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks. In goal, Sanchez came up with three saves for the Greyhounds, while Hamilton stopped one shot for the Bison.
Loyola will return to play on Saturday when it travels to Campbell for a 6 p.m., contest.