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Massachusetts men’s soccer looks for first road win of the season

(Andrew Graham/ Daily Collegian)

Following a win against Colgate, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team takes to the road Tuesday, traveling to New Britain, Connecticut to take on the Central Connecticut State.

The University of Massachusetts (4-2-1) has been dominant on its home field this year, winning four games and drawing in the other. Yet the team has had its struggles away from Rudd Field, not having picked up a win on the road in its two contests.

One reason for the road losses may be the high level of competition they have faced away from Amherst. One of those losses came against New Hampshire, a team that is currently ranked 16th in the country, while the other came against Dartmouth, which is the three-time defending Ivy League champions.

In both of those losses, the Minutemen came out with a little less juice than they normally do. This led to them surrendering early goals and forcing them to play from behind – never an easy task, especially on the road.

UMass coach Fran O’Leary knows his team will need to bring energy to the field from the opening whistle to get the win Tuesday night against CCSU (3-3-0).

“We’ve had good spells in the games on the road, but we’ve got to go and put 90 minutes together to try and get something against these teams,” O’Leary said. “The goal now against Central Connecticut is to go in and put in a complete performance.”

O’Leary also highlighted that in games his team has found success. They have kept their line in tact in the back end of the defense and found a consistent balance between short and long passes. If the Minutemen are able to do this, they should have a great shot of getting that first road win.

UMass squared off with CCSU last season, and came out with a 1-0 victory. That win was a nice rebound off their performance against them the season before, a game in which the Blue Devils defeated the Minutemen 5-1.

CCSU enters the game averaging 1.67 goals per game, and UMass knows its defense will need to have another big performance to keep the Blue Devil offense in check.

“We’ll do the same as we’ve always done,” O’Leary said. “Our front six do a lot of defending for us. If we’re having a good day, the front six defend and the back four just pick up the pieces.”

When defending against a tough offense, it takes a full team effort to keep them off the scoreboard. O’Leary hopes his team will continue to back each other up, from goalkeeper Bardia Asefnia to the forwards.

“Players will keep backing each other up time and time again,” O’Leary said. “If someone slip[s] up, Bardia gets them out of jail. The other day Konrad [Gorich] backed up Bardia and they made a huge play that allowed us to go on and win the game.”

Forward Alex DeSantis will be looking to get back on the scoresheet Tuesday night after failing to register a point in the last two games. The senior is currently tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 conference with eight points. Redshirt junior Casey Hamill leads the Minutemen with three assists. UMass will rely on these two to kick start its offense.

The Minutemen haven’t recorded back-to-back wins since the first two games of the season. After a big win against Colgate, UMass will look to break the back-and-forth win/loss pattern.

Game time is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in New Britain.

Thomas Johnston can be reached at tjohnston@umass.edu and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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