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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

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Minutemen begins homestand against IU, UCF

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

If the Massachusetts men’s soccer team hopes to continue its winning tradition at home, this weekend would be a good start.

The Minutemen will open an eight-game homestand this weekend when they host two dangerous teams at Rudd Field – Central Florida on Friday and No. 24 Indiana on Sunday. UMass is still looking for its first win, as its record stands at 0-2-1.

UCF (3-1) opened its season with 5-0 and 4-0 victories against Jacksonville and Florida Atlantic, respectively. The Knights’ season continued last weekend, when they followed a 1-0 loss to North Carolina-Wilmington with a 2-0 victory against Long Island.

The Knights are led by Nicholas Keown-Robson, who has three goals and three assists. His teammate, Spencer Scott, has two goals and three assists. UMass coach Sam Koch is not concerned about the individual threats his team will go up against.

“We’re going to focus on ourselves,” Koch said. “We decide who wins or loses – not the other team. Central Florida has good players but are [we about] to focus on any particular player? No.”

Koch is keeping a close eye on UMass’ goalkeeping situation, which features both Chris Piekos and Shane Curran-Hays, who will start against UCF on Friday. As of now, Piekos has started two of the team’s three games, allowing one goal for a .889 save percentage and a 0.41 goals-against average. Curran-Hays had a tough time in his only start, when he allowed three goals on seven shots against Harvard in a 3-2 loss.

“We’ve been trying to work out our goalkeeping situation,” Koch said. “But Hays will start on Friday.”

Most importantly, UMass has to work out its kinks in the offensive zone.

“We have to work on finishing,” Koch said. “We create a lot of good chances but we can’t put them away. That’s something that will take time.”

Putting those chances away should be very difficult against UCF keeper Shawn Doyle, who has allowed one goal with three shutouts in 360 minutes of play, posting a 0.25 GAA and a .900 save percentage.

The last thing UMass needs is a repeat of last season, when it desperately struggled to score goals. In fact, the Minutemen were 6-0-2 last year when scoring at least one goal. Koch understands that winning out this weekend would be a tough task, comparing it to the final weekend on UMass’ schedule.

“In a way [this weekend is] very similar to our Charlotte [and] Saint Louis weekend with Central Florida being Charlotte which is a skillful team, and Indiana being Saint Louis which is a strong, very physical team,” he said.

Indiana (2-2) opened its season on September 3 when it lost to California, 2-1. Since then, the Hoosiers defeated then-No. 5 UCLA, 5-1, lost to Cal Poly, 1-0, and defeated No. 22 Drake, 2-0. Indiana’s offense is highlighted by junior forward Will Bruin, who has four goals and one assist. His teammate, senior forward Andy Adlard, has two goals and two assists.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to test ourselves and to play consistently well and play within our system within the game,” Koch said referring to the upcoming weekend.  “If we do that, I’ll feel good no matter what the results are and hopefully we’ll be getting where we need to be by the time we start conference play.”

Although the Minutemen have yet to win a game, Koch and his players are far from dispirited.

“I think that [first win] is important to any team,” Koch said. “More importantly, though, is making sure that we’re playing well and that we’re doing the things we’ve stressed in practice as well as sticking to the game plan that we have for Friday’s game.”

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

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