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Minutemen wrap up home schedule over weekend

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team will host Fordham and La Salle in its final two home games of the year this weekend. Fordham will visit Rudd Field on Friday for a 2:30 p.m. start and La Salle will visit Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Minutemen, who are in second place in Atlantic 10 play with a 4-0-1 record, are coming off a pair of 1-0 wins against Temple and Saint Joseph’s last weekend.

Fordham and La Salle have each won five of their last seven games.

“My feeling is that we will play the way we need to play,” UMass coach Sam Koch said. “The Fordham game is a game that could go either way. If we play well I think we’re going to be in good shape. If we make mistakes and don’t play well, it’ll be a tough 90 minutes.”

The Rams are coming off of a weekend split of games against Richmond and George Washington. The Rams lost to the Spiders, 1-0 and defeated GWU, 3-0.

La Salle, meanwhile is coming off of wins against both Richmond and George Washington.

“It’s crucial for [us] to get results,” Koch said. “It’s another test, it’s like midterm exams. I mean we’re playing at home so obviously that’s good. We’ve got two teams right behind us, tied for third place. [They are] big weekends for them.”

Fordham is in a six-way tie for fourth place in the conference with La Salle, Richmond, Temple, St. Bonaventure and Xavier.

Fordham is also tied for third place in the overall conference standings with Dayton University.

“It’s a big game,” Koch said. “Playing at home is easier for us, but it doesn’t matter where we play the game. We’re focused, it’s vital that we come in with the right frame of mind, the way we did against Saint Joe’s, as a whole team, and if we do that, we’ll be alright.”

In their last game against the Hawks, the Minutemen were able to take the lead for good in the 81st minute with a goal by junior forward Bryant Craft. The goal was assisted by senior midfielder Ben Arikian, who now ranks fourth in career assists at UMass.

All-time, the Minutemen are 10-4 and 12-3 against Fordham and La Salle, respectively. The Minutemen did not face the Explorers last season, but dropped their match to Fordham, 1-0.

UMass has not lost in their last seven games, going 4-0-3 in that span, with the defense allowing one goal in five conference matchups.

Seniors playing in their final home game on Sunday will be midfielders Stuart Amick, Ben Arikian and Chris Vaccaro, as well as goalkeeper Chris Piekos.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at eamansfi@student.umass.edu.

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