Minutemen split pair of conference games this weekend against Dayton and Xavier

By David Brinch

The start to the Minutemen soccer team’s (4-3-3, 1-1-0  A-10) conference schedule began this weekend, as the Flyers (7-3-1, 2-0) found a way to beat UMass for the second straight year Sunday afternoon in double overtime, 1-0.

After a highly-contested match characterized by strong defense and physical play by both teams, Alex Torda scored the golden goal in the 106th minute to give the Flyers their seventh straight win of the season, while keeping them undefeated in conference play.

Evan McCreary touched the ball to Torda, who chipped a shot that deflected off Minuteman goalkeeper Chris Piekos’ hands, crossing the goal-line for his third tally of the season.

Piekos had a career-high eight saves in the match, while there were five yellow cards and 27 fouls issued among both teams.

UMass struggled in their third, however, registering just four shots on goal throughout regulation and overtime. Sophomore forward Chris Roswess contributed five shots in the game, but without Mark DeSantis, the Minutemen could not find the back of the net.

Along with Roswess, freshman forward Matt Johnson and Michael Doherty had opportunities to score, but came up empty-handed.

The Flyers frequently generated offensive opportunities throughout the game, especially in the first frame, outshooting UMass, 8-4. Piekos was busy with six saves in the first half.

DeSantis, the Minutemen’s leading scorer, did not play in the game against the Flyers or in UMass’s 1-0 win over Xavier on Friday.

The Minutemen shut out their fifth opponent of 2009 en route to their first A-10 victory of the season over the Musketeers (2-6-1, 1-1-0 A-10).

Sophomore defender Andrew Henshaw scored his second career goal, as the UMass defense again came to play and the offense put together some chances to capitalize against the Musketeers.

Fellow sophomore defender Mark Dangleis took one of six Minuteman corner kicks in the contest that found Henshaw’s foot in the 35th minute to put UMass ahead.

Henshaw’s score made him the sixth different goal-scorer for the Minutemen in 2009, making him the fourth UMass player with a game-winning goal so far this season.

The defensive unit, led by Piekos (four saves), limited the Musketeers to just one corner kick and four shots on goal in the contest.

After splitting time with redshirt sophomore Shane Curran-Hays, Piekos played in both contests this past weekend, surrendering just one goal. In Pieko’s six starts as a Minuteman, he allowed just two goals, and is ranked first nationally with a .0943 save percentage.

In another physical match-up, four yellow cards were issued, including one player – Musketeers forward Brandon Butcher – being ejected in the 74th minute.

This weekend displayed the Minutemen’s stellar defensive play, as UMass is first in the A-10 in goals allowed (6), goals against average (0.60) and is ranked second in shutouts (5).

The Minutemen continue conference play this coming weekend at Rudd Field, when UMass begins a five-game home stand, facing Temple on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saint Joseph’s Sunday at 1 p.m. UMass is in a three-way tie with the Owls for fifth in the conference after the first weekend of A-10 play.

David Brinch can be reached at [email protected].