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May 16, 2016

Minutemen soccer end in a tie, again

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Throughout this season, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team has shown inconsistency, resilience and a strong propensity to tie.

On Saturday, the Minutemen (1-3-5) tied Siena, 2-2, marking UMass’ fourth-straight overtime game. Six of UMass’ nine games have been decided in double-overtime.

UMass took a 1-0 deficit into the half despite outshooting the Saints, 11-6. Siena’s goal came from midfielder Matt Hemsley, who headed a pass over UMass goalkeeper Chris Piekos in the 34th minute.

 The Saints (3-5-1) extended their lead eight minutes following the half on a goal from forward Joe Tavernese.

“We put ourselves in a bad situation,” UMass coach Sam Koch said. “We created chances, we missed great opportunities early in the game. When you miss those you put yourself in a hole. And we put ourselves in a hole, we got caught sleeping on a couple of plays and they put two in and we’re fighting to catch up, and we did. I’m very pleased about that, just not pleased that we put ourselves in that situation to begin with.”

The Minutemen opened their scoring in the 69th minute, when forward Bryant Craft scored his team-leading fourth goal on a penalty kick.

UMass midfielder Stuart Amick tied the game less than four minutes later, taking a shot from the left of the box to beat Siena goalkeeper Phil Chabot to the upper left corner. The goal was assisted by midfielder Ben Arikian, who now ranks fourth all-time for UMass in assists with 22.

 “I think we played well and we all worked hard on and off the ball and we just have to score more goals and get less scored against us,” Arikian said.

Neither team could find much offense in the first overtime period, each registering a shot apiece.

The second overtime period was similar to the first, as neither team could create good scoring opportunities.

The story of the period was the tense interactions between the two teams. Up to that point, both teams committed numerous hard fouls. The game reached its tipping point in the second overtime period when Chabot geared up to punch Bryant Craft following a dead play. A fight then broke out, where Chabot earned a red card and UMass forward Tyler Cleverdon received his second yellow card, which also knocked him out of the game.

Koch preferred not to talk about the fight, instead turning his attention to his team and what he wants to accomplish in conference play.

 “There are still things we’ve got to work on, end of story,” Koch said. “We gave up two goals – we can’t be doing that in conference play. We scored two goals, which is good, as long as we hold the other team under two we’ll be fine. We have to finish our chances better than we did and we got to hold the other team to [fewer] opportunities.”

The goaltending situation is more defined now for UMass, as Piekos continues to be the go-to guy for Koch in net. Piekos made his fifth-straight start on Saturday, registering four saves. Siena’s Chabot made three.

Koch and the Minutemen now turn their attention to this Friday, when they host Xavier for the first conference game of the season. Despite showing resolve in the contest, Koch knows UMass is capable of winning more games.

“It was a good comeback from down two [goals],” Koch said. “[But] I’m disappointed that we as a whole group didn’t do better.”

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

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