Two recent Section II graduates helped Albany's newest soccer team get off to a 1-0-1 start in the United Soccer Leage's Premier Development League.
Shenendehowa graduate T.J. Popolizio scored both of his team's goals as the Albany BWP (Black Watch Premier) Highlanders tie Portland 2-2 in last Friday's home opener at Union College. Then, Mohonasen grad Roberto Sgueglia recorded the lone goal in Albany's 1-0 road win against Western Massachusetts Saturday.
Highlanders coach F.J. Zwicklbauer a former Guilderland High School star and Albany Alleycat was pleased with his team's efforts, especially last Friday's tie in which Albany rallied from a 2-1 second-half deficit.
"I'll take a 2-2 decision right now," said Zwicklbauer. "I was really happy with the intensity we had."
Popolizio had a big hand " or foot " in the decision against Portland. The Brown University forward rebounded his own missed shot in the 12th minute to give the Highlanders a 1-0 lead.
"I hit it off the crossbar, and I was lucky enough to have it bounce back to me and knock in the rebound," said Popolizio.
Portland pulled even in the first minute of the second half when Michael Donald scored. Seventeen minutes later, Jason Massie converted a rebound in front of the Albany goal to give the visiting Phoenix a 2-1 lead.
The Highlanders " who had been outplayed by Portland for the first 18 minutes of the second half " regained their stride and started attacking the Phoenix goal. That effort paid off in the 71st minute when a collision between an Albany player and the Portland goaltender gave Popolizio an open net to shoot the ball into to tie the game.
"I'm not sure who it was, but it was a brave play by him for taking on the goalie," said Popolizio. "All credit on that goal goes to him."