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UMass Men’s Soccer to complete non-conference play against Vermont

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

After a convincing first win in conference play, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team wraps up its non-conference portion of the schedule Tuesday, as it takes on Vermont at Rudd Field.

UMass (6-2-2, 1-0 Atlantic 10) has had its struggles with Vermont (6-4) in recent years. Last season, it fell to the Catamounts 3-2 in Burlington. At the time, Vermont was ranked No. 20 in the country. The season prior, the Catamounts shut the Minutemen out 3-0 at Rudd Field.

“They’re a very good team,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said. “The last time we played Vermont on Rudd they put three past us and they totally outplayed us. We know we’ll have our hands full.”

The Vermont attack is led by junior Geo Alves. The forward is leading the American East conference in both shots per game (3.8) and goals (6). If UMass wants to end its losing streak against its northern foe, it will have to contain Alves and not allow him to get his offense going.

“We’ve got to somehow find a way to blunt their attack,” O’Leary said. “There’s some very talented attacking players. We’ve got to try and impose ourselves on them and hopefully find enough of the ball to allow our creative players to have a goal.”

For the Minutemen, they look to continue their scoring tear. They have scored three goals in their previous two games, and their offense is clicking at just the right time.

O’Leary feels his team has done a great job all season of putting themselves in position to score goals, and his team is now converting on those chances.

“I think we’ve been creating chances all along,” O’Leary said. “Now, we’re taking a higher percentage of the chances we are creating. All across the team you feel there’s goals in us right now.”

Averaging 1.6 goals per game, UMass has featured a balanced scoring attack all season long. Freshman Davis Smith has come on as of late, scoring two of his four goals on the season Saturday in the Minutemen’s A-10 opener against Saint Louis. Smith leads UMass with 26 shots on the season.

Smith is tied with senior Alex DeSantis for the team lead in goals. DeSantis has done a good job creating chances for others, as he’s tied for second on the team with three assists. The Minutemen offense has also been boosted by junior Jack Fulton, who has scored goals in two of the last three games.

UMass has put itself in great position heading into conference play. It currently sits in first place in the A-10, and picked up a huge road win against a Saint Louis team that finished with the best record in the conference a season ago. St. Louis had just come off a victory over a Stanford team that had won the national championship the previous two years.

“Points on the road in the conference are precious,” O’Leary said. “Very hard to win on the road. Saint Louis is probably the hardest place. They won the league last year. They play an incredibly tough non-conference schedule then they usually zoom through the league.”

“So to go and score three goals at the home of a team that shutout Stanford the previous week is obviously indicative of the performance of our guys.”

With one final game outside of the conference, O’Leary couldn’t be more pleased with his team’s effort throughout the first portion of the season.

“Overall our goal in the non-conference schedule is to get better,” O’Leary said. “That manifested itself in some results and it has. As we look to close, we feel we’re getting better. Now, we have to see if we can continue to push on as we eventually get back into conference play.”

Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. in Amherst.

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

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