UMass coach Sam Koch was irritated and his players were equally disappointed. It was an unusual mood considering UMass tied a very formidable Vermont team, 2-2, which came into Rudd Field with a 4-1-2 record.
The Minutemen are getting a little tired of ties, though, because that has become a common theme this season as their record moved to 1-2-3.
“It’s the same old record: do the things that we do well and stay away from the things we don’t do well,” Koch said. “We attack down the flanks well and we had opportunities to continue to do that and we got away from it. Give Vermont credit they made it difficult [for us]. We had opportunities to do more than we did and we just didn’t play our best game today.”
With the Minutemen up 2-1 at the half, it appeared they had all the momentum to come away with its second win of the season.
After giving up an early goal, the UMass offense came alive during the 22nd minute, when forward Bryant Craft tied the game with his third goal of the season – a shot from inside the box coming off midfielder Chris Stoker’s pass from the right side. A little over two minutes later, defender Andrew Henshaw took advantage of midfielder Tyler Cleverdon’s pass with a shot that beat Catamount goalkeeper David Ramada to the bottom right corner, giving UMass a 2-1 lead.
Vermont would tie the game shortly after the half with Juan Peralta’s second goal of the season.
“They crossed it in and Henshaw was tracking back and slipped in,” UMass goalkeeper Chris Piekos said. “[Peralta] cut in and [was left all alone]. At that point I had to take the near post so he couldn’t beat me there which left a seam on the far post. He had a good strike. Unfortunately we couldn’t track him down and [deflect] that shot away.”
The contest remained a 2-2 tie for the remainder of the second half, thanks in large part to clutch saves from Piekos. With less than 16 minutes left in regulation, Piekos used all of his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame to block a wide open look from the Catamounts’ Dwayne Dove.
Three minutes later, Piekos found himself in another sticky situation when UVM forward D.J. Edler had a breakaway opportunity.
“[Edler] had a good breakaway so I came out, cut my angle and got set and saw that he was trying to beat me [to the] far post so I got my leg down,” Piekos said. [I was hoping] it would stay right there so I could clean it up and I did.”
Not one Minuteman believed the game should’ve reached overtime in the first place.
“We worked hard but we just didn’t get it done defensively,” UMass defender David Key said. “We let in too many chances and it just wasn’t our strongest effort.”
UMass was more effective in the first overtime period, taking four shots and having three of them denied by Catamount goalkeeper David Ramada. Vermont’s lone opportunity in the period came with under two minutes left, when Piekos made an easy save on a header.
UMass seemed lifeless in the second overtime period, not registering a shot while allowing Vermont three shots.
“It was a tough game,” Piekos said. “We go into the half with a 2-1 lead and with a strong back four we have, we should’ve kept it 2-1 or at least scored a few more goals. We let them [back into the game]. It’s a little disappointing but we just have to move forward with UNH on Saturday and take it one game at a time.”
Steve Levine can be reached at email@example.com.