The Massachusetts men’s soccer team finishes its longest road trip of the season this afternoon at Siena, looking to pick up its first road win of the season to cap off a four-game string of matches away from Rudd Field.
The Minutemen, who haven’t played at home or won a game since August,
will try to take advantage of the Saints’ three-game losing streak. It won’t be easy, however, as Siena (2-4) has pushed each of its last three opponents to overtime.
Coming off an overtime thriller of its own, UMass appears rejuvenated as a team after a tie at New Hampshire on Saturday. At first glance, a 1-1 tie may not appear to be a game that ignites a struggling team, but it was the way the game closed out that sparked the team’s spirit.
The Minutemen trailed for the majority of the match, but with the final seconds of regulation ticking off the clock, defender Hellah Sidibe smacked a ball from midfield into the box. It deflected off the hands of the Wildcats goalkeeper and landed at the feet of junior forward Brett Canepa, who tapped the ball in with a mere two seconds remaining to knot the score at one.
Neither team scored in the two ensuing overtime periods, but to escape with a tie on the road was something that UMass desperately needed.
“Playing on the road is different than playing at home,” UMass coach Sam Koch said in an interview with UMass Athletics after Saturday’s tie. “When you play on a field that you’re not used to, that certainly makes it more difficult.”
But Koch has taken his team’s youth into account regarding its recent road woes.
“Our guys are adjusting; they’re getting better at it,” Koch said. “We’re young, but we’re getting better and (the game at UNH) was certainly a step in the right direction.”
And if history means anything, UMass may have a good chance at regaining a winning record on Wednesday. The Minutemen have had the Saints’ number dating back to 1999, as UMass has gone 9-1-1 against Siena, including five shutouts.
The Saints, who were just shut out for the first time this year have seen their share of high-scoring contests this season, scoring eight times while allowing 11 goals. By contrast, the Minutemen have recorded six goals and allowed six.
Though Siena has scored only two more times than UMass, it has had several more scoring opportunities, outshooting its opponents 87-82 despite being outscored by three. Meanwhile, in the same amount of games, the Minutemen have been outshot drastically, 79-60.
But behind good defense in the box and great goalkeeping by senior goalie Brian Frame, they have managed to right the ship this season.
Wednesday’s contest marks the last regular season, out-of-conference road game of the year for UMass as it kicks off in Loudonville, N.Y., at 3 p.m.
Taylor Snow can be reached at email@example.com and followed at Twitter at @Taylor_C_Snow.