Early deficit too much for UNCW Men’s Soccer to overcome in CAA Tournament

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UNCW goalkeeper Gabriel Perrotta. (Photo: Tanner Barth, WWAY)

PHILADELPHIA, PA (UNCW Sports)–Hofstra sprinted to a 3-0 lead in the opening 27 minutes and held off a second half rally by UNCW to earn a 4-2 victory over the Seahawks in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Soccer Championship at Vidas Field on Thursday afternoon.

The win advances the Pride (5-2-2) to the CAA Championship Game against James Madison on Saturday, Apr. 17, at noon. UNCW, meanwhile, drops to 5-3-2 after suffering its third consecutive setback.

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Senior George O’Malley gave Hofstra an early 1-0 lead in the third minute by knocking in a rebound of a shot by senior Matthew Vowinkel following a corner kick. It was O’Malley’s first goal of the season.

The Pride extended the margin to 2-0 with 26:34 left in the first half when junior Hendrik Hebbeker fired a low-angle shot over the head of sophomore goalkeeper Gabriel Perrotta for his second goal of the year.

Hofstra added to its lead in the 27th minute when senior Storm Strongin put in a rebound of a Vowinkel shot attempt, scoring his second goal of the campaign.

But, UNCW rallied in the second half by scoring two goals in a three-minute span to trim the deficit to 3-2. Sophomore Parker Norris took a through ball from sophomore Gabe Mercer in the 69th minute and fired home a one-timer inside the left post for his second goal of the year.

Just over three minutes later, Mercer sent a crossing pass into the box that senior forward Jacob Evans headed inside the left post to close the gap to 3-2. It was Evans’ second goal of the season.

However, Vowinkel sealed the win for Hofstra with 2:14 remaining when he fired a 25-yard shot past Perrotta into the upper right corner of the goal off an assist from Hebbeker.

Vowinkel scored a goal and added two assists to lead the Pride in the victory while Hebbeker also had a goal with an assist.

Perrotta made a career-high 12 saves in the loss for UNCW, which was outshot by a 19-16 margin. Freshman Wessel Speel tallied seven saves for Hofstra.