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UMass wins two in a row, Arikian making presence known

For the second year in a row, junior Ben Arikian played a major role in defeating a familiar opponent.

Instead of just catalyzing a goal, the midfielder had both an assist and a score, as the Minutemen (2-1-3) shut out Siena, 2-0, Saturday afternoon.

Last season, Arikian helped catalyze a score against the Saints (4-3-1) on Sept. 6, as Chris Brown headed in the game-winning goal en route to UMass’s first shutout of 2008.

Arikian netted the game-winning goal in the opening minutes of the second half, on an unassisted try from the left corner of the box, as UMass got its second victory of the season.

Ten minutes into the first half, senior forward Mark DeSantis got the Minutemen on the board when he ripped a shot from the right side of the box inside the left far post to put UMass up 1-0.

Arikian, along with sophomore midfielder Chris Roswess, was credited for the assist on DeSantis goal, which helped build momentum in the opening moments of the game.

Arikian and DeSantis are tied for the lead in goals for the Minutemen with two on the season, while Arikian leads in overall points with six. Both have one game winning goal each so far in 2009, as UMass coach Sam Koch will look for both to keep contributing offensively as the team begins Atlantic 10 play in the upcoming weeks.

The Saints, who have one of the most dynamic scoring attacks in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, tried to generate offense throughout the game, holding an advantage in shots, 20-14, as well as corner kicks, 4-1.

The Saints defeated two A-10 teams this season in Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure, but a stingy UMass defensive game plan and consistent play in net held the Saints at bay.

Goalkeeper Shane Curran-Hays was impressive in net for the Minutemen, making eight saves on the day, including five in the first half.

It was the redshirt sophomore’s first career win and shutout in only his third collegiate start.

Curran-Hays and junior Chris Piekos have been splitting time between the pipes, with both making 18 saves so far this season. However, Piekos has a slightly higher save percentage (.947), which is second in the nation, than Curran-Hays (.857), and has two shutouts on the year.

The Minutemen will come back to Rudd Field after a five-game road trip to take on Colgate Tuesday, a place they haven’t played a regular season game since Sept. 1.

UMass tied Boston University, 1-1, in a double overtime match, before tying two of its next three opponents.

After a 2-0 loss to Hartford, the Minutemen got their first victory over the year, with Arikian again leading the way in a 1-0 win.

He scored with less than 10 minutes to go in the contest, as Piekos made four saves in the game.

The meeting with Colgate will be just the second meeting between the two teams, with the Minutemen defeating the Raiders back in 1989.

Koch needs just one more victory to reach his 200th career win at the helm of the Minutemen program.

Tuesday’s match-up with Colgate is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Rudd Field.

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

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