In a matchup of winless opponents, something had to give.
The Massachusetts men’s soccer team headed to Ohiri Field on Sunday to take on Harvard with both teams poised and ready to break into the win column.
Harvard was the successful team.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the 80th minute, Kevin Harrington headed in a Ross Friedman corner kick to put the Crimson (1-4-1) on top 2-1. It was a lead that UMass couldn’t overcome.
The 2-1 loss is the seventh in a row for the Minutemen (0-7-1) and with each defeat the frustration continues to mount.
“The last goal, our defender was pushed down while their player went up and headed the ball in that could have easily been called a foul that wasn’t called and unfortunately cost us a goal and cost us the game,” UMass coach Sam Koch said.
“The bottom line is, referees don’t win or lose games, we do. But, let’s just say he didn’t help us.”
The first half played out evenly, with both sides generating a few good scoring opportunities. After the first 45 minutes, Harvard held a 5-4 shot advantage, but UMass went into the break still tied 0-0.
It took the Crimson only four minutes into the second half to open up the scoring when Phillip Fleischman headed in a Michael Klain throw-in for his first goal of the season.
“The tough thing is, is that you miss those good opportunities,” Koch said. “And as it continues to go, the way we’ve been going, then everyone tenses up that much more.”
But, unlike in its previous losses, UMass evened the score.
In the 62nd minute junior Josh Schwartz found himself in space, took a deflected shot and placed it past the Harvard keeper, tying the game at 1-1.
The goal was Schwartz’s second of the season and only the third of the entire year for the Minutemen. It snapped a 335-minute goalless drought that dated back to a Sept. 8 loss at Vermont and spanned nearly four complete games.
“I thought we had great chances after [Schwartz’s goal],” Koch said. “We had a great chance that we missed in the first half. Again, we’ve done some good things and it’s just one of those things, we’re having a little tough luck.”
The goal was a positive sign for UMass, but with the game still tied, both teams pressed forward.
Like much of the game, both sides responded to the other’s offensive attacks with a counter attack of its own. But it was the Crimson who capitalized on the next opportunity and that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Crimson outshot the Minutemen by a 13-8 margin during the game, the first time since the loss to Vermont that it has failed to crack double-digits in shots.
The Minutemen have a short time to put this loss behind them as they take on their toughest test yet on Wednesday when they travel to Syracuse.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Koch said. “But, I feel good that these guys are going to be able to compete… But, I think we’re going to be a much tougher opponent for them than what they think and I think this could be a perfect time for an upset.”
The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Orange’s SU Soccer Stadium.
Patrick Strohecker can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Strohecker.