Michael Smolens Earns 300th Career Victory with Merchant Marine
from USMMA Athletics (see original release)
|Michael Smolens reached the 300-win mark in his 26th year as Merchant Marine head coach.
Photo: USMMA Athletics
KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 22, 2015) – On Tuesday, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy 26th-year head coach Michael Smolens earned his 300th career victory (all at Kings Point) when the Mariners defeated visiting NYU, 4-1, behind four second-half goals. The win improves USMMA's record to 6-2 overall on the season, while the Violets fall to 3-4.
The Mariners were trailing 1-0 after the first half on a goal by NYU freshman Ricardo Mitrano in the 30th minute. The tally was assisted by classmate Robert Shellow.
In the second half, junior Gavin Yingling (Salisbury, Md.) tied the game up in the 50th minute with a rip from about 25 yards out off of a free kick. It was his eighth goal of the season in as many games. The Violets then committed six fouls over the next 15 minutes, as USMMA began to carry the momentum in the action.
Sophomore Alex Niemann (Valatie, N.Y.) broke the tie with his first goal of the season in the 72nd minute. He took a pass from junior Connor Culiver (Scottsdale, Ariz.) right above the box then found a hole between two defenders before burying a shot past NYU junior keeper Lucas Doucette into the net.
The Mariners tallied once again just over three minutes later when senior Dan Weldon (Holland Township, N.J.) tapped the ball into an empty net on the left side after receiving a pass from the right by Yingling. Weldon would score again over seven minutes later on a beautiful diving header at the left side of the net off a cross from the right side, again by Yingling.
Junior Cory Maier (Hampton, Va.) made four saves to earn the victory, including three in the first half alone. His counterpart, Doucette, finished the night with six saves for the Violets.
"In the first half, we played some good soccer, but gave up a goal on a counter-attack and were unable to finish any of our chances," commented Smolens after the win. "Coach Fitzgerald, Coach Cochrane and I were pleased that in the second half we amped up the pressure and put the game away. We created a number of terrific chances and scored some tremendous goals. What was most pleasing to us was that a number of different players stepped in for some missing teammates and helped us get the victory. We are pleased with the way our guys bounced back today and we are looking forward to our next conference challenge on Saturday."
Up next, the Mariners will travel to Towson, Md., to take on Goucher College in Landmark Conference action this Saturday, Sept. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Gophers'
Coach Smolens' Statement On Earning His 300th Win
"300 wins means that I have been here a long time and have had the opportunity to work with some tremendous people. (Former Athletic Director) Sue Petersen Lubow hired me with no previous college experience and helped give all our athletic programs the tools to succeed. I have had a number of top-notch coaches who I have had the pleasure to work with, most notably associate head coach John Fitzgerald, who has been such a big part of so many exciting victories in the 18 years we have been together here. Most importantly, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with so many terrific young men. Our players' ability to work within the challenges of the Academy and have so much success on the field is a testament to their work effort and their abilities as young people. The manner in which they meet the day to day challenges at the Academy is what makes me most proud, and what leads them to have so much success immediately following graduation and well into the future. I owe all our staff, coaches and players so much for helping me achieve this milestone."