Men’s Soccer: Minutemen to face No. 1 Wake Forest to prepare for A-10s

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

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P.J. Stanley/Collegian

The low key, no-pressure scrimmage on Saturday afternoon proved how the Massachusetts men’s soccer team can play, although the competition wasn’t as tough as expected.

UMass (2-4-2) beat the Winstars soccer academy, 5-0, getting goals from various Minutemen including sophomore Stuart Amick, junior Bryan Hogan (two goals) and freshman reserve Jason Villagomez (two).

“They weren’t as good as I thought they were going to be, but we played really well too, especially in the first half,” UMass coach Sam Koch said. “We played a good game and they weren’t as strong and couldn’t keep up with our speed.”

Increased confidence

UMass has struggled to score goals, but in Saturday’s scrimmage the Minutemen proved differently. They showed their ability to attack as they moved the ball quickly, made accurate passes, had good supporting runs and attacked with numbers.

“I think they allowed us to [attack with numbers], and I think we also tried to do it,” Koch said.

The Minutemen can use Saturday’s scrimmage as a confidence booster and a reminder that they know how to score. However, as Koch reminds his team, they can’t get too excited because they are playing a completely different team on Tuesday in No. 1 Wake Forest and Sunday in its Atlantic 10 opener against Rhode Island.

This season, UMass has scored seven goals (not taking into account the exhibition game from the weekend). None of the seven goals have come from last years returning leading scorer Bryan Hogan, who is seen as a strategic finisher for the Minutemen.

In the scrimmage, Hogan reminded his team that he can score goals, but needs to continue scoring when it comes to A-10 play.

Defensive strength

The Minutemen have worked on their defense since the start of the season, and it shows, only allowing nine goals against. UMass’ back four (typically senior Chris Brown, junior Stuart Thompson, junior Dan Lepone and freshman Andrew Henshaw) and goalkeeper senior Zack Simmons continue to be strong as they hold teams to one goal leads.

A strong defense will be even more crucial as the Minutemen travel to North Carolina on Tuesday.

“[We have to] defend really well as a team. We’re going to be doing a lot of defending on Tuesday, no question about it. We’ll defend a lot, looking for the counter [attack],” Koch said.

Reserves show talent

As UMass entered the second half of Saturday’s scrimmage many reserves got a chance to play, when they normally don’t see many minutes on the field.

“I thought the guys that don’t get to play as much got a lot of time and I’m pleased with the way those players played,” Koch said.

Specifically Villagomez, who stood out as he scored two goals in the second half of the game.

Having a deep roster will continue to be beneficial for the Minutemen as they enter A-10 play. Taking players off the bench and having confidence in them when they take the field allows the starting lineup time to recharge.

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]