Minutemen close out regular season at Rudd with draw
The Massachusetts soccer team added a loss and a tie to its record this weekend, falling to Fordham 1-0 on Friday and tying La Salle 1-1 in a double-overtime match on Sunday.
The weekend’s games bring the Minutemen’s record to 5-4-7 overall and 4-1-2 in Atlantic 10 play.
The loss to the Rams on Friday was the Minutemen’s first inside the conference this season. After the two squads played the first half to a draw, with each team tallying two shots on goal, Fordham junior midfielder John Niyonsaba put one away for Fordham in the 63rd minute.
Neither team was able to muster any offense the rest of the game, with each team finishing the game with 10 shots. The Rams and Minutemen finished with three and two shots on goal, respectively.
UMass coach Sam Koch said the Minutemen were outworked and played into the hands of the Rams.
“Fordham was very good, their back four. They did a really good job against us,” Koch said.
Although the score may not have shown it, Sunday’s game included significantly more offense than Friday’s game.
The Minutemen finished with 27 shots, nine of which were on goal, while the Explorers tallied 19 shots with five on goal.
“We created more opportunities today because we attacked better,” Koch said.
“The guys did a good job getting forward, playing forward. We were able to take advantage of where the spaces were.”
Koch added that he thought his team took advantage of the fact that the Explorers were tired and not as fresh as Fordham was on Friday.
The Minutemen totaled 16 of their 22 regulation shots in the second half.
Senior forward Ben Arikian and junior forward Bryant Craft led the team in shots with six and five, respectively, while Craft managed to put four of his shots on net, to Arikian’s one.
La Salle senior midfielder Ryan Richter scored the lone goal for the Explorers on a rebound in the 37th minute.
The Minutemen were unable to respond until the 78th minute, when Craft took a shot directly following a punt from goalkeeper Chris Piekos.
“Basically it was just a good counter. Piekos got the ball in his hands and looked up and saw that I had basically a one [versus] one with their center back. [I] played it over the top [and] got a bit of a lucky break,” Craft said.
“All [the] credit [goes] to Piekos. He’s the one who made the play happen.”
One glaring statistic in the game was the discrepancy between the amount of shots and the amount of shots on goals for the Minutemen, as only one third of their shots were on goal.
“We want to finish our chances,” Koch said. We had great chances today and we didn’t finish them.”
In order to improve, Koch said that on top of working on their finishing, they will work on their attacking patterns.
Another concern was on the defensive side of the ball.
In the two overtimes, the Explorers were close to scoring on more than one occasion.
“We’ll continue to work, making sure that we are defensively sound because we gave up I think two really good chances to them that they could’ve put away which would have ended the game,” Koch said.
Sunday was Senior Day for the Minutemen, and playing in their final home game were goalkeeper Chris Piekos and midfielders Stuart Amick, Ben Arikian and Chris Vaccaro.
Next weekend, the Minutemen will play two road games, one of which will be against Charlotte on Friday and the other against Saint Louis on Sunday.
Eric Mansfield can be reached at email@example.com.