Brian Wright scored a hat trick and added an assist as the UVM Men's Soccer team beat Rider 4-1 at Virtue Field Thursday night. With the victory, the Cats advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
The teams traded great opportunities in the opening minutes, but it was Wright who found the breakthrough in the 24th minute. Jon Arnar Barodal found Wright in the box, who then moved to his left and blasted the ball into the top left corner.
Vermont very nearly made it two a few minutes later, but Ryan Baird made a spectacular stop to deny Bernard Yeboah on the doorstep. Baird finished with 12 saves.
In the closing minutes of the first half though, Wright showed a top speed that none of the Broncs could match. Charlie Defeo sent a perfect through ball past the defense, and Wright juked by Baird before essentially dribbling the ball into the net.
Wright added an assist in the 70th minute with Stefen Lamanna tapping it in to an empty net, and the senior from Ontario capped off his hat trick in the 90th by beating Baird to the bottom right corner.
With the win, UVM is over the hump that felled the Cats one year ago.
"In the locker room, we talked about how we lost to Boston College 1-0 and how close we were to going on a run because they went on a run," Wright said of Vermont's first round defeat in 2015. "We kept it in mind all season so it feels really good to get the first win and keep rolling."
"When we played BC last year, we felt like we let one slip and I thought that really motivated us to get back to this position," added head coach Jesse Cormier. "We got in this game and had to take care of business and we did tonight."
Getting the program to the point where it can complete for a national championship has been Cormier's stated goal all season, and the team will get a chance to measure itself against one of the blue bloods in the sport on Sunday. Vermont travels to #12 Virginia in the second round to face a Cavalier program that has won seven national titles since 1989.
Sunday's kickoff from Klockner Stadium is set for 1 p.m.
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