For 72 minutes, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team held Boston University at bay and appeared to have enough to grab its first home win of the season.
The final 18 minutes were a different story, as defensive breakdowns and a red card resulted in two goals in a span of 13 minutes, 37 seconds in the Minutemen’s 2-1 loss to the Terriers on Sunday.
UMass coach Sam Koch feels the team’s collapse was a combination of their slip-ups and BU’s improved execution in the toward the end of the second half.
“If we had done what we were supposed to do, I don’t think they would have done as much,” said Koch.
The Terriers (2-4-0) increased their tempo in the second half, greatly dictating the pace of the game, and experienced a surge in the offensive zone. The Red and White fired 10 shots in the second half, compared to only two in the first.
The Minutemen (1-6-0) had their chances to extend their lead, but could not capitalize on the scoring chances they created.
“We had other chances to put balls away and we didn’t finish them, which was depressing but at least we created those chances,” said Koch.
Brett Canepa’s second yellow card of the game put the team in an awfully difficult situation, coming less than three minutes after the Terriers’ equalizer in the 73rd minute. Koch was not happy with the play, calling it a “silly, stupid foul.”
UMass was exposed with the man down, as BU seized the opportunity and pulled ahead in the 86th minute. The Maroon and White couldn’t clear the ball due to the Terriers’ man advantage, ultimately leading to Cameron Souri’s game-winning goal, which he netted off a rebound.
Koch attributed the defense’s second half shortcomings to poor clearing in the defensive zone, giving the opposition extra scoring chances. Poor positioning and execution were also factors, which gave the Terriers more momentum in the zone and created better scoring chances.
“The one thing we talked about is you [have to] stand them up defensively,” said Koch. “You [have to] close them down, stand them up, don’t get caught diving in and unfortunately that’s what we did.”
The Minutemen got themselves into some bad habits as well, such as getting out of position. UMass got caught in transition in the second half, which gave BU an advantage heading into the offensive zone.
“When you’re doing that, it’s pretty easy for the team to look like they’re dominating because they were,” said Koch.
The first half was a different story as the Maroon and White limited BU’s scoring opportunities, holding the Terriers to a single shot on goal.
Freshman Matt Keys had a phenomenal game, using his tall frame to shield BU’s forwards from making plays on the ball in the box. The Norfolk, Mass. native’s physicality and intensity helped get in the heads of the Terriers, resulting in confrontations between the two sides.
“They’re competitors,” said Koch. “They want to win. We want to win, so we both battled hard.”
Three yellow cards in the second half (two on UMass, one on BU) were a result of the aggressive play, as both teams were fighting hard for every ball.
Koch noted that there were some “bad fouls on both sides,” but did not believe any of it was intentional.
The BU bench disagreed, as Terriers coach Neil Roberts and others disagreed constantly with the referees’ calls.
“It’s a contact sport so you’re [going to] have tackles, you’re [going to] have physical confrontations,” said Koch.
The Minutemen will have to maintain their first half execution and intensity for the full 90 minutes in order to snap out of their three-game losing streak, as they host Hartford on Wednesday.
Stephen Sellner can be reached at email@example.com.