Ties becoming an all too familiar outcome for UMassFor most collegiate soccer teams, overtime periods are something of a rarity. They are exciting, tense, urgent and generally infrequent – but not for the Massachusetts soccer team.
Upon tying Dartmouth (4-2-1) at Rudd Field on Wednesday, the Minutemen have had four of their eight games decided in double overtime. With a 1-3-4 record, UMass has as many overtime ties as it does wins and losses combined.
UMass forward Chris Roswess has never seen anything like it.
“It’s getting kind of frustrating now that we can’t just pull out a win,” Roswess said. “It’s definitely the most overtimes I’ve been in [this early in a season].”
The overtime periods have added up to over 90 minutes – the same amount of time in a full regulation game.
“It takes a toll on our bodies, but we’re pretty fit,” Roswess said. “It doesn’t really affect us that much, because we can run all day.”
“I think it helps us get ready for the Atlantic 10,” UMass coach Sam Koch said, citing his team’s resilience. “It’s good extra work. There’s nothing like the game to face situations and to test ourselves.”
The Minutemen have been tested a lot so far this season, especially in overtime. According to Roswess, UMass’ game plan shifts from a standard, balanced attack to a more defensive-minded approach once overtime begins.
“Coach definitely stresses defending, because we don’t want to concede a goal,” Roswess said. “We’d rather have a tie than a loss. We try to stay compact, make sure we don’t concede, then counter and try to get a goal that way.”
For the most part, UMass will keep its outside back in a defensive position throughout overtime instead of letting him make a run into the attacking part of the field – a common practice during regulation.
“We try to do that during the regular 90 minute game,” Koch said. “In overtime we let the midfielders and forwards do their jobs and make sure that we stay organized in the back with the idea that we don’t want to be unbalanced and give them an easy opportunity. [In overtime], an outside back can go forward only if he has a really clear, open opportunity to do it.”
In their current five-game homestand, the Minutemen are 1-2-2. UMass breeds confidence at Rudd Field, but understands that their competition has been more than challenging. Every team the Minutemen have welcomed into their complex has a winning record.
“We’ve had a tough run against very good teams,” Koch said. “I think this team is better than their record, but that’s the record we have. You can talk all you want, but bottom line is we’ve still won one game and have lost three [and tied four]. I think we’re a good team, but we have to start proving it in the win column.”
On Saturday, Siena will visit UMass for a game at 1 p.m. It is the final game the Minutemen will play before their conference schedule begins on Oct. 8 against Xavier.
“It’s bizarre, but we’re kind of getting used to it,” Koch said. “You’re certainly getting your money’s worth as [the fans] get an extra 20 minutes each game.”
Steve Levine can be reached at email@example.com.