Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

Defense key as Minutemen near conference play

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team knows a thing or two about playing solid team defense.

UMass is one of the best defensive units in the Atlantic 10 so far this season, leading the league in goals allowed (4), goals-against average (0.60), while ranking second in shutouts with three. Even with some unfamiliar faces in the backfield, the Minutemen are nationally-ranked in team save percentage (.900) and  in goals against average (0.60).

Even with the accolades, UMass coach Sam Koch doesn’t want his team getting complacent.

 “As far as being the best defense in the A-10, I don’t know, because we haven’t played each other,” Koch said.

The Minutemen (2-1-3) open their conference schedule at Xavier (1-4-1) on Oct. 9, before playing Dayton (3-3-1) on Oct. 11.

Freshman Dominic Skrajewski and Brodie Steigerwald have seen substantial time on the field, while sophomores Sam DeNormandie, Michael Doherty, David Key and Mark Dangleis are contributing players on the defensive front.

Dangleis, a transfer from Lehigh, had a little trouble adjusting to the style that UMass plays, as it took time for him to mesh with the system.

 “He’s very dangerous offensively; he can cross the ball very well; he can shoot the ball very well, but his job here is the make sure the other team doesn’t score,” Koch said.

Koch sees Dangleis playing back as beneficial for the offensive unit both in changing the field and in the transition.

Along with this group, Koch has used junior Stuart Amick and Dangleis in both the midfield and defense to generate scoring chances for Ben Arikian and Mark DeSantis, while helping out in the backfield when opponents are in the Minutemen’s zone.

 “Stu is so dangerous in the attack and creates problems for other teams in the midfield, and he attacks [from the] left side as well as anyone we have had play here, and putting him back up there gives us a whole new dimension, that has opened up Arikian and DeSantis.”

With Amick most likely moving back to midfield; look for even fresher faces to come off the bench for Koch and to make an impact early.

Even with the offense looking to create more plays, the defense has been a staple of the Minutemen program for many years.

 “We stress defense, because defense wins championships, so were always defense first,” Koch said. “That’s the easiest thing for us to get them to understand, and then we build off our defense.”

Amick started his career with UMass as a midfielder in 2007 and made an impact in his first two seasons as a Minuteman. Ironically, Amick’s freshman year was the year that UMass made the College Cup, and Koch made a similar move, switching midfielder Doug Rappaport to the backfield.

The Minutemen are a team which historically, relied on dynamic defensive play, as goalie Zac Simmons and defenders Chris Brown, Kenny Cook and Trevor Singer helped UMass make it to the 2007 NCAA national semifinals.

 “Are we playing pretty good defense as far as I’m concerned, yes, we are, but we still aren’t doing everything we need too.”

Along with the defense, having two starting caliber goalkeepers in Shane-Curran Hays and Chris Piekos splitting time proposes match-up problems for opponents, especially Colgate.

 “It’s great to have two starting keepers, and both get better each week, and we don’t want to change anything if its not broken,” Koch said.

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

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