Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Inconsistency plagues UMass defense

While the Massachusetts men’s soccer team has certainly struggled to score goals early on this season, the defense has also been somewhat inconsistent.

Maria Uminski/Collegian

Maria Uminski/Collegian

In the first half in their game against Boston University on Sunday, the Minutemen were solid defensively, aggressively challenging the Terriers’ offensive chances and limiting them to just two shots and two corner kick opportunities.
The second half was an entirely different story.

The Terriers successfully pressured the UMass back line, firing 10 shots, earning six corner kicks, and tallying two goals, which turned out to be the difference as BU spoiled the Minutemen’s home opener.

That second half performance was far from the usual, though. In its previous three games, UMass only surrendered two goals – both on penalty kicks – and were able to spurn a large majority of their opponents’ chances, which represents a clear improvement from giving up seven goals in its first three games of the season.

“We still have things to work on, we’re still not where we need to be,” said UMass coach Sam Koch in an interview last week. “We’re still far from being the best defensive team we can be, but we’re working on it, and I think we’ve got it, and we know what we have to do.”

Wednesday’s matchup may be deceiving, as the Minutemen welcome Hartford to Rudd Field.
Although the Hawks’ record stands at just 1-5-1, they will certainly pose a challenge for the UMass defense, as all of their games have been decided by at least one goal, and they are fresh off the heels of drawing a 0-0 tie with No. 15 Penn State on Sunday.

Young players improving

Entering the 2011 season, the Minutemen knew that the voids left by midfielders Stuart Amick and Ben Arikian would be hard to fill, and seven games into the season, production is now starting to come from the younger players.
On Sunday, freshman defender Matt Keys was not only causing problems in the defensive zone for Terrier forwards, but he also scored his first career goal in the contest, using his size to head home a free kick delivered by defender David Key.

At 6-foot-5, Keys’ height makes him a matchup nightmare for any opponent, and he will certainly be a threat anywhere on the field this year and for years to come.

“He’s been doing a good job for us all year,” said Koch. “He’s been a really nice addition, he’s got a great attitude, and he has a great future here.”

“We’re really pleased we have him, but we’re disappointed we haven’t won more games with him,” Koch added. “He did everything he could [on Sunday] to help us win. We just have to step it up all around him.”
It is a difficult task, as the Minutemen have players all around the pitch seeing increased playing time and roles this season compared to last.
Aside from Keys, forward Josh Schwartz and defenders Jake Murphy and Mike Loughery are among the freshmen seeing a lot of playing time early on this season, and have each shown flashes of their potential.

Additionally, junior midfielder Hellah Sidibe, who started just twice in 2010, has started in every game this season. Although he hasn’t produced any points yet, it’s just a matter of time, as he has created several opportunities playing aggressively from his position.

“I think they’ve done a pretty good job,” said Koch, in reference to his less experienced players. “I think our team is better, even though our record isn’t, our team is better. In the long run, we’re going to be better. Our depth is much better than it was last year. The attitude has been great. I think the future’s good, it’s just [a question of] when the future is going to appear.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at shewitt@student.umass.edu.

 

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