Any doubts the Massachusetts men’s soccer team had of competing at home successfully were diminished Saturday afternoon.
The Minutemen (3-3-2) snapped their five-game winless streak with a 2-0 win over Dartmouth in their first game at Rudd Field since Aug. 31.
With the win, UMass improves its home record to 3-0-1 and will look to stay unbeaten in Amherst on Tuesday when the Minutemen host Syracuse at 3:30 p.m.
“It was good to play at home,” UMass coach Sam Koch said. “It’s nice to be back here, and I thought the guys played very well after a poor performance against Siena (Wednesday). They bounced back well and they came to play.”
The Big Green (3-4-0) outshot the Minutemen, 18-9, and had 12 corner kicks as opposed to UMass’ three. Dartmouth’s opportunities were all for naught as senior goalkeeper Brian Frame continued to build on a strong season with six saves for his third shutout of the year.
Much of Frame’s performance was aided by a solid defensive effort that shut down Dartmouth’s leading scorer, Alex Adelabu, who came into Saturday scoring a goal in each of his previous four games. Adelabu did not get one shot off.
While Frame held his own in net, it was the underclassmen that stole the show in the scoring area of the game.
Freshman forward/midfielder Peter Alvarenga scored his first collegiate goal and earned an assist. Sophomore midfielder Zach Miller also scored his first goal of the season.
Freshman forward Jay Marchand assisted Alvarenga’s goal on a throw-in in the 62nd minute. Alvarenga knocked in on a header to give the Minutemen the 2-0 lead.
“We do long throw-ins just about every day in practice,” Alvarenga said. “Our coaches always stress getting to the near post, getting across the goalie and freezing him. So that’s exactly what happened and it worked out this time.
“It feels good,” he said of scoring his first collegiate goal. “I want to get more, obviously.”
Alvarenga’s first assist of the season came in the closing minute of the first half when assisting on Miller’s goal to give UMass the 1-0 lead heading into intermission.
The Minutemen were pushing the attack throughout the final few minutes of the half, but they capitalized on a possession that began with a throw-in to senior forward Hellah Sidibe, who fired at the net, leading to a scramble for the ball in front of Dartmouth keeper Noah Cohen (two saves).
Before Cohen had enough time to react to a header by Alvarenga, Miller came in and put the ball in the back of the net off his chest.
After making it 2-0 in the second half, the only challenge left for UMass was holding its own in what turned into a physical affair.
There was a total of 20 fouls between the two teams and four yellow cards issued in the second half.
It all began with Big Green coach Jeff Cook, who got a yellow card in the 75th minute for some heated shouting at the referee following a series of brutal collisions between the two teams that led to one of his players shaken up on the ground.
The Minutemen were issued the next three yellow cards.
Koch said he was happy with the way his group kept their composure as the physical nature of the game heated up.
“I thought they handled it well,” Koch said. “We didn’t get any calls by the referee and they still handled it well so I’m pleased with that.
“I think they’ve shown a fair amount of self-restraint when they’ve needed to, which they didn’t do early in the year, so that’s all getting better,” he said.
Nick Canelas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @MDC_Canelas.