Coming off its first loss of the season, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team continues with the second game of a four-game road trip under the lights on Wednesday night against Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.
Despite knocking off a pair of premier programs in the opening home stand — including a season-opening victory over reigning Colonial Athletic Association champion Delaware — the Minutemen (2-1-1) were unable to get past a previously winless Adelphi squad on Saturday.
With another low-scoring match, UMass, which has neither scored nor surrendered more than one goal in a game, lost in the 108th minute of overtime when forward James Diana took a high cross off his head into the net, as the Panthers broke the scoreless tie with the game-winner.
A major issue for the Minutemen was the penalty count as they out-fouled Adelphi, 17-9. This included four total yellow cards for the team and a red card for striker Connor DeVivo.
Facing a higher-ranked opponent this time around, UMass will have to take a more disciplined approach if it expects success against a weathered Hartford team. The Hawks haven’t seen home often this season, having played five of their six games on the road while coming away with a respectable 3-3 record.
The Minutemen have lost their last two matchups to the Hawks and have not defeated them since 2007, the year the Minutemen made it to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament in Sam Koch’s most successful year of his 22 seasons at the helm for UMass.
Goalkeeper Brian Frame looks to continue his success manning the net with his 0.45 goals against average to go along with two shutouts in his four games as a starter.
Finally taking the helm in his final season at UMass, the senior is relishing the opportunity to help the team bounce back from last year’s disappointing season.
“I got a chance to sit and watch behind two fantastic goalies,” Frame said. “It’s great to finally step up into this role and fill in the shoes and I’m grateful for the time I’ve had [with] the team.”
But no matter his success this year, Frame won’t be able to get a win tonight under his own power; the offense will have to be effective unlike its last affair in Garden City, N.Y. Despite outshooting Adelphi this past weekend, 14-12, the Hawks managed to land the ball on goal more often with a 5-4 edge, with the fifth shot serving as the critical blow to the Minutemen.
UMass has seemed very even-keeled through four games, scoring three times, while only letting the opponent net a pair of shots. But playing that way will not get the Minutemen where Koch expects them to end up this season.
“My expectation is that we will be playing in the Atlantic 10 tournament at the end of the season,” Koch said.
It may seem like an outlandish expectation for a squad that finished 4-13-2 last year, but Koch sees a different light in the eyes of his team this year.
“[Last year] there was an attitude I think that was missing,” Koch said. “[The attitude] that we could go out and win any game wasn’t there.
“This team [has that attitude],” he continued. “This team knows that they can go out and they can win any game that they play. And that’s where you have to believe that this team can be successful.”
UMass and Hartford kick off Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Taylor C. Snow can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Taylor_C_Snow.