Men’s Soccer: No miracle repeat in ’08

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

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Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

A cross ended the Massachusetts men’s soccer team’s 2008 season.

In the 103rd minute of the first round of the NCAA tournament, Harvard’s Andre Akpan scored the lone goal of the game in the second overtime to beat UMass 1-0 in dramatic fashion.

UMass was attacking, but turned over the ball near midfield and the Crimson started counter-attacking. Akpan went 1-on-1 against freshman Andrew Henshaw, then made a move and shot the ball past senior goalkeeper Zack Simmons.

“I went to go in the box and tried to get a cross in, but with the wind today just took it into the far post,” Akpan said, describing the goal.

“He made a move and had a tiny, tiny bit of daylight and he snuck it between our defender, me and the far post. It was a good shot,” Simmons said.

UMass had its fair share of chances, though, outshooting Harvard 16-12 and holding the advantage in corner kicks, 8-3.

“We had four outstanding chances and when you don’t put those away then you are in here, in the [press tent] first,” UMass coach Sam Koch said.

Freshman Chris Roswess and junior Mark DeSantis had numerous chances throughout the game, but just couldn’t get by Harvard goalkeeper Austin Harms or defender Robert Millock.

In the second overtime, Roswess was in front of the goal and picked up a loose ball and took a shot through the scrum in front. It looked like he had the game-winning goal, but Millock cleared the ball off of the goal line.

“It was awfully close. We watched their game against [Boston University] and they won in the second overtime 10 seconds into the game and it was almost a spitting image of the same play,” Harvard coach Jamie Clark said. “So, do I know if it was over the line or if it wasn’t, I have no idea.

“But it was an awfully close play, it would have been a tough way to go out if it had happened.”

The game began with both teams struggling to control the ball because of the frozen field, with the game played with wind chills in the teens.

“I think the field conditions were obviously the same for both teams. It makes it a little bit more difficult, it’s hard to stand up and I think both teams suffered because of it,” Koch said.

The ball took odd bounces and players were sliding around the field, but as they adapted to the conditions, the Minutemen (10-8-3) moved the ball well and dominated play for much of the game, but they couldn’t get a goal.

“It was an exciting game. There wasn’t much in it either way, it was going to be something dramatic to win it, fortunately for us it was on our side,” Clark said.

Simmons made three saves to Harms’s one. Both teams struggled to get by their opponent’s defenders throughout the game.

Stuart Thomson anchored UMass’ back line hardly allowing any Crimson player to cross his path. Thomson, senior Chris Brown, Henshaw and junior Dan Lepone supported Simmons throughout the match.

“My hats off to Harvard, they got the goal,” Koch said. “Obviously goals win games and they are moving on and we’re not. I’m disappointed obviously, but I’m very proud of this team and what they’ve done coming back from a real tough start being 2-6-2 and getting to the Atlantic 10 tournament, getting an at-large bid, a lot of credit goes to the seniors and their leadership.”

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]