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Ben Arikian leads Minutemen to first win of season

Untitled-6The last thing Massachusetts men’s soccer coach Sam Koch wanted was another tie.

The Minutemen had three of their past four contests end in draws, with UMass still not yet earning a victory in 2009.

“We tied three games, and I think the last thing we wanted was another tie, and we talked about it knowing that we had to get a result,” Koch said.

It seems like Ben Arikian was listening.

The junior midfielder scored the lone goal in the 84th minute of the Minutemen’s 1-0 win over Northeastern Saturday night as UMass (1-1-3) went on to get its first win of the season.

After a long cross from sophomore defender David Key, sophomore forward Chris Roswess got the ball into the box, but a NU defender attempted to get the ball out of the box.

The ball was redirected to Arikian, who was wide open and one-timed the ball into the side of the goal past NU goalkeeper Michael Gallagher.

“In all honesty, we were on the road, playing on a tough field, and they could’ve easily beaten us. They could have had a couple goals in the first half, and it could have been a bad result, and in the second half they had some good opportunities. Defensively we got the job done, and I was glad to get out of there with a result,” Koch said.

The Huskies got off to a quick start offensively, registering seven shots in the first half and just one corner kick, but a combined defensive effort behind goalkeeper Chris Piekos was effective, as Piekos made just one save in the first period.

“It reminded me of Hartford, and the difference between the two games was that we didn’t come out of it in the second half against Hartford, and we did against Northeastern,” Koch said.

The Minutemen fell to the Hawks, 2-0, on Sept. 5th after keeping Hartford scoreless in the first half. But the breaks and offensive opportunities were not there for UMass.

A week and a half later, Koch and the rest of the Minutemen seemed to have found some answers to some underlying questions like the goalkeeper situation, scoring consistently and playing team defense.

 “I think we have answered some more questions in the past couple of games,” Koch said.

Piekos made two key stops on shots on goal after Arikian’s tally to preserve the lead, finishing the day with four saves.

It was his second career shutout, as his goals against average (0.29) decreased while his save percentage (.947) increased in his three games played.

“He did a real good job in that he didn’t have to make a good save,” Koch said.

Sophomore goalkeeper Shane Curran-Hays, who will start against Siena this Saturday, played the first half in the Minutemen’s exhibition against Winstar Academy on Sunday, but did not face many challenges in the 3-0 win at Rudd Field. Piekos played the second half, but also did not see much action.

Behind a pair of goals from Roswess, a goal from sophomore forward Scott Strycharz and two assists from Arikian, UMass used the exhibition as a way to fine tune some of their game plan in order to prepare for Siena.

The Minutemen dominated in shots, 23-to-7 along with corner kicks, 4-to-1.

UMass will travel to face the Saints Saturday before returning to Rudd Field for their final non-conference game against Colgate Sept. 29.

“We’ve got two good contests to see were we are before we play against Fordham, and I’m looking forward to the contests,” Koch said.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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