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March 22, 2017

Minutemen stay winless, pick up two ties in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Classic

Forty minutes of extra time wasn’t enough for the Massachusetts men’s soccer team to decide either of its two games this weekend. The Minutemen are still looking for their first win after tying both games of the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Classic.

They finished yesterday’s game in a 1-1 draw against Vermont (0-0-2). Forward D.J. Elder struck first for the Catamounts in the opening six minutes of the game.

Senior Marty Galvin got the ball down the right hand side and sent a low cross through the box to Elder. The freshman collected the ball and kicked it past goalkeeper Shane Curran-Hays to put UVM up early.

UMass (0-1-3) had its first real opportunity when forward Chris Roswess drew a foul and set up a penalty kick for his other front-runner, Mark DeSantis. The penalty kick went to the left of Vermont goalkeeper, Tom Critz, who made a diving save to stop the shot.

Fouls plagued the Catamounts during much of the first period. UVM had 20 fouls, 12 of which came before the half. None were more costly than the one in the 39th minute where DeSantis headed in a kick from midfielder Ben Arikian to knot the game up at one a piece.

DeSantis ended the game with five of the Minutemen’s 10 shots, only to be outdone by Vermont’s 15 shots, including five during both overtime periods combined.

On Friday, UMass and New Hampshire finished the game scoreless, despite the Wildcats’ aggressiveness. UNH (1-2-1) outshot the Minutemen, 16-5, with shots coming from nine players, including three off the bench.

However, none found their way into the goal as keeper Chris Piekos finished with seven saves.

One of the biggest differences between the two games was set pieces. In the game against UNH, the Maroon and White managed five corner kicks between regulation and overtime compared to the Wildcats’ 16. Against the Catamounts, UMass finished with eight while limiting them to four.

The Minutemen have now tied three of their four games with two goals so far and are still trying to figure out their keeper situation for the season.

Curran-Hays started his second game of the season on Sunday, giving up three goals with a 0.769 save percentage. Piekos (who started on Friday) has allowed one goal in the two games he started this season with a 0.933 save percentage.

Curran-Hays was originally the starter-in-training for UMass alum Zack Simmons during his two years on the bench, but a knee injury during the summer has opened the competition up to Piekos, who has so far put up better numbers.

UMass coach Sam Koch is hoping to go with a clear No. 1 starter soon, once either candidate proves themselves to his satisfaction.

Aside from not having a definitive goalkeeper, the Minutemen have struggled offensively to find opportunities. Opponents have put up 68 shots compared to 33 from the Minutemen.

Even with the disparity on offense, the only loss so far happened when Hartford defeated UMass, 2-0, on Sept. 9.

After two games this weekend, Koch and Co. should get plenty of rest and time to figure out the situation in goal.

The next game for the Minutemen will be against cross-state rival Northeastern on Sept. 19. The Huskies are 1-2 this season and will play UMass in their second of three straight home games.

The Minutemen will then return home the next day for an exhibition game against the Winstars.

Adam Miller can be reached at ajmil0@student.umass.edu.

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