September 15, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Minutewomen offensive struggles continue in a 2-1 loss vs. California -

Sunday, September 14, 2014

UMass football falls to Vanderbilt 34-31 in crushing fashion -

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Sept. 8, 2014 -

Friday, September 12, 2014

“She was a happy person and she exuded that happiness onto everyone around her” -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

UMass football prepares for Southeastern Conference opponent in first road game of the season. -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

‘Calvary’ laces optimism with incredibly dark comedy -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

There is no such thing as ‘reverse racism’ -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Michael Fassbender shines in eccentric, disarming ‘Frank’ -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Controversial but informative Bill Maher returns to HBO -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photo Slideshow: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Rally -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letter: Students, go to football games! -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minutewomen not concerned with overtime games at the moment, preparing for game against Northeastern -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minutemen targeting improved third down defense -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Do accused rapists deserve their checks and balances? -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

UMass men’s soccer searching for first win of the season against in-state rival Boston University -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Career Services office refines efforts -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Students respond to Ferguson shooting -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Primary election ends with Coakley, Baker victorious -

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And 5-6-7-8 -

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Food of the World: Italy -

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Midfield unit looks to lead UM in 2010

Matthew Harrison/Collegian

After going 7-7-3 last season for its worst mark since 2005, the  Massachusetts men’s soccer team knows that most important aspect of this season will be the play of its midfield.

The Minutemen aren’t coming off the best season of UMass coach Sam Koch’s tenure, but last season, Koch saw good performances out of the midfield – something he hopes will continue as he heads into his 20th season at the helm with the Minutemen.

Leading that strong midfield was Ben Arikian, who will be returning as a senior in 2010. Arikian sat second behind Mark DeSantis last season in goals scored, registering three goals and four assists with a team-high 36 shots on goal.

“He’s our leader; he’s very important,” Koch said. “We know Ben is going to do the job. The guys around him have to step their games up in order to make Ben more effective by being in better positions, by receiving balls on the ends of passes and crosses, by [creating] a dangerous situation and then getting the ball back to Ben to score goals.”

Still, Koch believes there’s room for his star midfielder, who is expected to be a leading scorer in 2010, to improve.

“Ben’s ability to improve will depend on the players around him and their improvement,” Koch said. “They all work off of each other. Ben makes other players better and other players make Ben better.”

Much of the Arikian’s success will depend on fellow senior Stuart Amick, who has started alongside Arikian since partway through 2007, when both were sophomores. Amick scored a goal and an assist last year, while using his speed and ability to get into scoring position to create chances for the Minutemen.

The third pillar of the UMass midfield will be junior Bryant Craft, whose consistency as a starter dates back to his freshman campaign in 2008, when he tallied a goal and an assist. Last year, Craft replicated those statistics, something both he and Koch would like to improve upon this year.

“Bryant Craft on the flank is dangerous going forward,” Koch said. “He’s worked hard all summer from what he’s told us, and he can have a huge impact on scoring goals for us. We need him to help us score goals. We’ve got players that can do that, and we’ll show up when they show up.”

With Arikian, Amick and Craft presumably starting in the midfield this season, the competition for the remaining starters has already begun. One candidate for the remaining starting job is junior Chris Stoker, who transferred from Providence this year.

“Stoker is a veteran player who will be another edition to the midfield, and he can help us in that area,” Koch said.

It’s obvious that the midfield will be the foundation for the  Minutemen this year, not only because of its talented midfielders, but also because of the midfield-heavy formations Koch plans to employ throughout the 2010 campaign.

“[We will use] a traditional 4-4-2,” Koch said. “We will also play a 4-5-1 and a 3-5-2. However, the way the game goes will determine what our formation is. Midfield will be in the attack.”

Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

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