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Fordham snaps UMass’ five-game unbeaten streak

Maxwell Sparr

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team had no trouble generating offense in its past three games, all of which were shutout victories for the Minutemen. However, UMass could not put away any scoring opportunities Saturday afternoon, falling to Fordham, 1-0, at Rudd Field.

“We stunk in the first half, and played better in the second half, [but it was] too late,” UMass coach Sam Koch said.

“We talked about it, and we had to come out ready to play,” he said. “They were going to come out ready to play; we knew that, [and] they did. Their goal went in, and we had some great chances, but bottom line, 1-0, and that’s the way the game goes.”

In a game characterized by physical play, (29 total fouls, three yellow cards) and inclement weather, the Rams (3-5-1) took advantage of a breakdown in the UMass (3-2-3) midfield and capitalized early in the first half.

“We had the ball at midfield, and we played a poor pass that they intercepted, and that set their goal up” Koch said. “The ball should have been played forward, but we played it square, and they intercepted it.”

Rams forward Tim Richardson scored his second goal of the season and the only tally of the match on a 20-yard strike that went in below the right post, as midfielder Alex Brunbauer was credited with the assist.

The Minutemen picked up the pace in the attacking zone for the rest of the contest, but their shots could not find the back of the net. Junior midfielder Ben Arikian had three shots on goal and six total shots in the game, equal to the number of total shots from the Rams (6).

“He hit the post on one of them,” Koch said. “You give teams chances around the box, and you can’t do it. Sooner or later, it’s going to go in, it’s just a law of averages, and we just didn’t have them going our way today.”

Along with Arikian, forwards Chris Roswess and Mark DeSantis, and midfielder Stuart Amick continued to catalyze opportunities for UMass, but it just wasn’t there for the Minutemen.

UMass outshot the Rams, 12-6 throughout the game, and held the advantage in corner kicks, 7-2.

UMass had been on a hot streak offensively as of late, outscoring opponents 6-0 in its past three victories.

The Minutemen scored three goals in the first half against Colgate on Tuesday, Koch’s 200th career victory at UMass and freshman defender Dominic Skrajewski’s first career goal.

Along with Skrajewski, who started his sixth career game in Saturday’s loss, forward Brodie Steigerwald and midfielder Tyler Brown tried to jump start the attack off the bench for the Minutemen. Both played substantial minutes, something that Koch believes will help UMass in its conference schedule coming up.

“I think they both played well, they’ve been playing better in practice, and will hopefully continue to get better as they go,” Koch said. “I was pleased with their energy, but both of them at times get confused because it’s not what they’re used to. You can talk about [the intensity of the game] all you want, but you don’t really know until you step on the field.”

The Minutemen head to Ohio next weekend in their Atlantic 10 opener against Xavier on Friday and Dayton on Sunday. The contest against the Rams was the Minutemen’s final non-conference game of the season, although it was against a conference opponent.

“This was a great wake up for us I think because we’re now back in conference games,” Koch said. “This game doesn’t count towards conference standings, which is great, but it’s a wake up to let us know that everyone comes to play, and the next nine games are going to be dog fights.

“We need to be sure we play the whole 90 minutes, because we didn’t today,” Koch said.

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

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