Scrolling Headlines:

: Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

Craft gets off to hot start to begin season

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Bryant Craft is making good on a promise he made earlier this summer when he said he was going to elevate his game.

The junior forward from Worcester, Mass. has two goals in the Minutemen’s first two games. His first came in the season opener against Boston University, which resulted in a 1-1 tie. His second goal came Monday in a tense, 3-2 loss against Harvard. Craft’s quick scores ended the mild trepidation on how he would adapt to his new position as a forward instead of a midfielder, the position he played primarily during his first two seasons.

“Coach [Koch] switched me from outside midfielder to forward which was a big change,” Craft said. “But I think he had the confidence [in me] and knew I could adjust – I guess it’s paying off.”

Koch has confidence in his veteran forward, citing his speed and desire to attack the goal as the two strongest parts of Kraft’s game.

“He is so good at going forward,” Koch said. “He wants to score a lot of goals and he’s great at going straight for the goal.”

Craft is well on his way to having a career-year, already eclipsing his one goal, one assist campaigns in his freshman and sophomore years, respectively. He credits his early success to the hard work he did over the summer when he played alongside teammate Ben Arikian and even some former Major League Soccer players on Long Island, N.Y.

“This summer was a good experience for me,” Craft said. “I just went down there with the mentality to try and get better and improve.”

Improve he did.

Even with one goal per game average on the young season, Craft remains humble and knows he’s not the only offensive threat the Minutemen have. Arikian carries much of the offensive workload along with junior forward Chris Roswess, who Koch believes is a more dangerous player when he plays alongside Craft.

“I just work hard,” Craft said. “I go out there and give everything I have every game. I’m not going to say I’m the fastest guy or the most skillful guy – my goal is just to outwork you every game.”

Craft’s tenacious play has drawn rave reviews from the UMass coaches, who struggled to come up with weaknesses in the talented forward’s game.

“He’s not really that funny,” Koch joked. “His jokes are really bad.”

Craft, on a more serious note, understands there are parts of his game that actually need improvement.

“My left foot is definitely one area I need to improve,” Craft said. “I’d also say the [mental aspect] like being able to stay tuned and being effective for the full 90 minutes.”

Koch wants Craft to continue his hot start so that UMass can find more balanced scoring after netting just 15 goals in 17 games last season on its way to a 7-7-3 record.

UMass looks for its first victory on the year when they travel to Connecticut for a 1 p.m. game against Fairfield University.

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

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