ORONO – The goal by Northeastern University sophomore striker Michael Cipriano wasn’t pretty, but it counted and that’s all that mattered.
Cipriano’s low cross from the right side deflected off a University of Maine defender’s foot and goalie Josh Sjostrom’s hand and eventually rolled across the goal line with 24:22 left to give NU a 1-0 triumph in an America East game at rain-swept Alumni Field Wednesday.
The Huskies improved to 6-6-2 overall, 3-1 in America East while Maine fell to 1-9-2 and 0-5, respectively.
Three of Maine’s five America East losses have been by a goal. Maine has scored only twice in those five games.
Cipriano’s third goal of the season was the type of goal that occurs on a wet field.
“I put it on the ground because I thought it would be hard for the defender to handle it. Luckily, it went in,” said Cipriano.
Sjostrom said the ball was “deflected at the near post” by one of his teammates and he was able to get his hand on it.
The ball hit the cross bar and bounced straight down.
“I tried to swat it out but I hit one of our defenders’ feet instead and he knocked it in,” said Sjostrom.
“This field is cursed,” said Maine senior captain Patrick Kelly.
Scoring chances were few as both teams defended efficiently and got numbers behind the ball. Northeastern was more dangerous thanks to the play of Atha Kirkopoulos, who had nine of NU’s 21 shots at goal.
Maine finished with 10 shots.
Maine generated two good opportunities in the final 10 minutes.
Kyle Vosmus mistimed Danny Florez’s cross and his wide open 12-yard header bounced weakly to goalie Sergio Saccoccoio and Luke Garner’s one-touch deflection off a thigh-high Matthew Bernal cross sailed wide.
“This is one of the best teams Maine has had in a long time,” said Huskies seventh-year head coach Ed Matz, whose team beat Maine 7-2 last fall. “They work very hard, they’re extremely organized and they get 10 guys back behind the ball. Fortunately, we got a lucky bounce.”
He praised the sure-handed Saccoccio, saying “he doesn’t give up any second chances.”
Saccoccio finished with six saves on 10 shots while Sjostrom made four stops on 21 shots.
“Our guys played hard,” Maine coach Travers Evans said. “They created some good opportunities. They just need to learn how to win these games. We’ve been in far too many one-goal games that have gone the other way.”