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January 13, 2017

Offensive outburst gives Minutemen first win of season

After scoring only three goals in its first nine games, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team exploded for five goals on Saturday, defeating Siena 5-2 at Rudd Field for its first win of the season.

Despite being outshot 25-17 for the game, UMass (1-8-1) never trailed in the contest and ended the Saints’4-3) two-game winning streak.

Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

“When we take as many shots as we have been taking lately,” UMass coach Sam Koch said, “sooner or later we were going to start scoring goals.”

Leading the way for the Minutemen were junior Josh Schwartz and sophomore Mark Morris, who each scored two goals on the day while Schwartz added a pair of assists. Nick Ruiz made six saves in goal while earning his first collegiate victory.

“It is definitely a relief to get that first win,” Morris said. “It is a weight off our shoulders and now we can just go out there and play the way we know we can.”

Morris started the game’s scoring early, giving UMass a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute off of a corner kick by Schwartz that bounced around and eventually found him. He then put it away in the bottom corner.

For a team like UMass that has struggled to find the back of the net all season long, Koch recognized the importance of scoring that first goal to establish momentum.

“Goals change games,” he said. “So when you get the first one, especially with the way that we have been playing, it makes a huge difference.”

Five minutes later, Schwartz added to the lead with a long-range strike from 25 yards out that found its way past  Siena goalkeeper Ryan Vyskoeil and gave the Minutemen their first multi-goal lead of the season.

Towards the end of the first half, the Saints had numerous chances to score, firing two shots off the posts and having a goal called off for “dangerous play in the box.” Then, in the 43rd minute, Siena defenseman Falko Friedrichs scored from short distance to bring the deficit back to a one as the teams headed to halftime.

Three minutes into the second half, UMass regained its two-goal advantage when Schwartz  cleaned up a rebound off a Matt Keys shot. The goal was his second of the game and fourth of the year.

“Today was a really good day for him,” Koch said of Schwartz. “When he’s got his head up, he is a hell of a player.”

After Siena scored its second goal in the 65th minute to make it 3-2, Morris quickly responded with an impressive bicycle kick for his third goal of the season.

“It was just a good flick by Matt [Keys] and it just happened to fall perfectly in place,” Morris said. “I just hit it good enough and it beat the goalie.”

As the clock ticked down to the team’s first win, Connor Devivo added the fifth and final goal for the Minutemen in the 88th minute, with Schwartz chipping in with his second assist of the afternoon.

UMass has 13 days off before it begins conference play at No. 17 Virginia Commonwealth.

“I think a lot of the things that we’ve worked on is starting to come through, which will certainly help us [in conference play],”Koch said.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at achiusano@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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