With just three games remaining on the non-conference schedule, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team has an opportunity to stop the bleeding and put an end to its torturous three-game losing streak.
“This is a pretty resilient group,” said UMass coach Sam Koch, “They’ve stayed focused, and morale-wise we’re doing OK.”
The Minutemen (1-6) will seek their second victory of the season on Wednesday at at Rudd Field when they play host to Hartford (1-5-1).
If UMass is to come away victorious on Wednesday, the squad will need to overcome the 2-1, heartbreaking loss it suffered on Sunday to Boston University. In that game, the Minutemen saw their 1-0 halftime lead evaporate in a matter of minutes during the second half.
That loss dropped the team to 1-6 on the season, and the lone goal scored was just the second one to find the back of the net all season. Matt Keys, a freshman out of Norfolk, Massachusetts, netted it for his first collegiate goal.
“We have got to keep directing chances, and we have to finish,” said Koch. “The positive is that we’re creating good chances, but we’re just not scoring on them.”
Some of UMass’ struggles on offense can be attributed to the lack of production from senior striker Bryant Craft.
The leading goal scorer from a year ago has scored just once this season, as opposed to the seven times he scored in 2010.
However, Koch was quick to mention that the offensive struggles do not fall entirely on Craft’s shoulders.
“You can’t put it all on him, some other guys need to pick up the slack and help him out,” said Koch.
Chris Roswess, Hellah Sidibe, Josh Schwartz, Brett Canepa, and Connor DeVivo are all without a point through seven games and were players Koch said must step up.
Unfortunately, Canepa will not have the opportunity to step up and contribute on offense Wednesday, as the sophomore forward was issued two yellow cards, and a subsequent red in Sunday’s match versus BU. A player that receives a red card is prohibited from participating in the following game.
“It’s unfortunate, but I’m confident other guys will come in and step up in his place,” said Koch.
Shane Curran-Hays will likely start in net for the Minutemen against Hartford. He took over in the starting goalie position in the third game of the season and has started every game since, posting a 1.14 goals-against average, and a .793 save percentage.
Like UMass, Hartford enters Wednesday’s match struggling in non-conference play.
The Hawks kicked off the season with a bang, defeating Siena 1-0 in their home opener. Following the victory, the Hawks lost six straight one-goal games then played Penn State to a 0-0 tie.
Koch believes that Hartford’s 1-5-1 record is not indicative of the way the team played lately.
“I think Hartford’s playing much better recently,” said Koch, “Holding Penn State to a tie is really impressive.”
The Hawks are led offensively by Rohan Roye, a freshman from Jamaica, who hass tallied a team-leading three goals.
Luke Citriniti will start in goal for the Hawks and brings a 1.52 goals-against average, and a .656 save percentage to Wednesday’s game.
Hartford and Massachusetts last faced each other in 2009, with the game resulting in a 2-0 Hawks victory. This time, the teams are facing each other in similarly desperate situations.
Jackson Alexander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.