The Massachusetts men’s soccer team puts its unbeaten record at home on the line Tuesday when it faces Syracuse in the first ever meeting between the two teams.
UMass (3-3-2) is 3-0-1 in four games at Rudd Field, but has struggled to find the same positive results on the road. The team has managed only a single draw to go with three losses in its four road contests.
The Minutemen won their latest home match on Saturday, 2-0, over Dartmouth. UMass coach Sam Koch was pleased about the win after struggling in a 3-1 loss to Siena on Wednesday.
“I thought the guys played well after a very poor performance against Siena,” Koch said after Saturday’s game. “They bounced back well and came to play and the attitude and the way they play makes us a tough team to beat. The way we played at Siena makes us a very easy team to beat, so we need to find out which team is showing up.”
Tuesday’s matchup is arguably the Minutemen’s toughest test in maintaining their home-unbeaten streak this season, as the Orange (7-2) enter the match with a perfect 2-0 record on the road.
Syracuse is also in the midst of a four-game winning-streak, having won seven of its last eight matches.
The Orange have dominated their opponents as of late. During one three-game stretch, they won by scores of 6-0, 4-0 and 5-0.
UMass has a difficult task in slowing down a high-powered Syracuse attack. The Orange have scored 22 goals in nine games as opposed to the Minutemen’s nine goals in eight.
Syracuse is led by its dynamic trio of Tony Asante (five goals), Jordan Vale (four goals) and Ted Cribley (three goals), who have accounted for 12 of the team’s 22 goals and have combined for 32 points.
Much of UMass’ contributions offensively have come from underclassmen, with three of the team’s top four scorers all being sophomores or freshman. Sophomore Josh Schwartz leading the team with three goals and three assists.
The most recent breakout performance came from freshman Peter Alvarenga, who tallied a goal and an assist in the team’s win over the Big Green.
“The team’s pretty young, they’re getting better,” Koch said. “A lot of the freshmen are coming through. … It’s a big jump coming from where they came from and playing against guys that are three years older than them.”
One area where the Minutemen have had consistency all season has been in net.
Senior Brian Frame has been the go-to guy in goal this season, playing in all eight games and posting three shutouts while only giving up more than one goal twice.
He has a 1.04 goals-against average and .812 save percentage.
The goalkeeping for Syracuse is primarily led by freshman goalie Alex Bono, who has started in eight of the team’s nine games. He brings a 0.66 goals against average and a .844 save percentage to Tuesday’s contest.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Rudd Field.
Patrick Strohecker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @MDC_Strohecker.