UMass men’s soccer falls to Hartford
With a third straight NCAA Tournament bid as their goal, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team is discovering how hard it may be as they have started the young season out winless.
The Minutemen (0-1-1) fell to Hartford, 2-0, Saturday night, in its second regular season game, as two late second half goals from Hawks forward Carlos Villa cemented the win.
The Hawks dominated both sides of the ball, outshooting UMass 18-5 and allowing just two shots in the first half and three shots on goal throughout the game.
After a scoreless first frame, Villa scored his first of two goals in the 70th minute on a free kick following a Minuteman yellow card.
Six minutes later, he struck again, in the right corner past keeper Shane Curran- Hayes for an insurance tally.
Curran-Hayes is vying to fill former standout goalkeeper Zach Simmons’s spot with fellow junior Chris Piekos.
Curran-Hayes had five saves, while Piekos had seven – including back-to-back-to-back saves in the first overtime of a double overtime match against No. 24 Boston University last Tuesday.
“That was [Piekos’] first varsity start that counts,” UMass coach Sam Koch said. “He did a great job in the spring for us. I’m not surprised, I’m pleased but I’m not surprised that he did that, but we have a battle. Shane is an outstanding keeper too, so the two of them battling who is going to start is going to be interesting.”
The Minutemen tied the visiting nationally ranked Terriers 1-1 in both teams season opener, as redshirt sophomore defender Sam Denormandie scored his second career goal in the physical contest that ended in a 1-1 draw.
“I think the fact that we only had one scrimmage and getting over the fact that we didn’t play UConn last weekend because of the weather, it was a good result for us,” Koch said.
Although Koch was pleased with how his team kept up with an extremely talented team, there were some things that UMass will need to work on.
“The goal that was ruled offside’s was bad marking on our parts. We made some mistakes that this game exposed, and were fortunate to get away with it. As the season goes on, were not going to [get away with them], so we have time to clean those things up.”
The Terriers were the second nationally ranked team on the Minutemen’s schedule, as UMass was supposed to play No.12 Connecticut on Aug. 29. The exhibition match was rained out, but the Minutemen were able to play Adelphi on Aug. 22 in an exhibition match, winning 2-1.
“There were a lot of things we didn’t know, so in a way [the BU game] was a scrimmage for us. Our fitness level I think is ok, we have some freshman, and you don’t know what they can do yet, and we got them some time.”
Freshman defender Dominic Skrajewski started for the Minutemen against the Terriers, with Tyler Brown, Matt Johnson and Brodie Steigerwald getting solid minutes in their first regular season game at BU.
Against Adelphi, sophomore forward Chris Roswess scored twice in 21 minutes to lead the Minutemen to their first victory after the Panthers took the lead in the 63rd minute.
Koch has been impressed with the first three games, but feels that the team must execute their skills effectively but easily.
“We’ve got to play simple. A lot of times when we try to take the extra cuts, we try to turn when we shouldn’t have turned, we have combinations that we didn’t find, and we have to go over that.”
The Minutemen will next travel to Burlington, Vt. to compete in the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Classic, facing New Hampshire on Friday and Vermont on Sunday.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.