If there’s anything that the Massachusetts men’s soccer team has learned during Atlantic 10 play, it’s that one goal can make the difference between a win and a loss.
Four of the first five games of the A-10 schedule for UMass were decided by 1-0 scores. In two of those games, that goal went the Minutemen’s way. That one goal also leaves little margin for error as, more often than not, they have missed out on having goals go their way, even with the best defense (0.54 goals-against average) in the A-10.
UMass (5-5-3, 2-3-0 A-10) is currently on the outside looking in of the A-10 Tournament picture as it is currently tied for ninth place with George Washington. The next four games are going to be critical to the Minutemen if they hope to earn a spot in this year’s tournament.
However, one game separates them from postseason contention and all four games are against teams with a .500 record at best.
In order for that to happen, UMass won’t only have to continue its solid defense, but be the first ones to strike. The Minutemen are undefeated when they are the first ones to score.
When the opposing team scores first, it has pretty much taken UMass out of the game. The only time the Minutemen avoided a loss after not scoring first was on Sept. 13 against Vermont when UMass forward Mark DeSantis netted his first tally of the season to give his team the tie.
Roswess gaining confidence
As a starting forward, Chris Roswess had the expectations of being a leading goal-scorer for the Minutemen.
His ability to become an offensive threat shined in both exhibition games against Adelphi and the Winstars when he tallied two goals in each of those games. However, he lacked the opportunities during the non-conference schedule to show his talent as he had one shot on goal during the non-conference schedule.
The start of the A-10 schedule has been a different story.
Even without a goal, Roswess has become an offensive threat just by his aggressiveness. In three of his last four games, Roswess finished the game with a shot on goal. He has played more confidently with the ball as he is starting to take more shots later in the season.
Roswess took eight shots between the Dayton and Temple games, which is as many shots as he took in UMass’ first seven games combined.
Although the sophomore has yet to score his first goal as a Minuteman this season, he is starting to get more touches. If Roswess can become the scorer that UMass coach Sam Koch wants him to be, he could put his team back in contention for the A-10 Tournament.
Vaccaro earns nod at forward
Ever since the start of the A-10 schedule, Koch has mixed and matched his lineups to find someone to make up for DeSantis’ loss as he recovers from his illness.
The UMass coach didn’t have to go deep to his bench to find someone to play Saturday’s game against Rhode Island. Junior Chris Vaccaro earned his first start at forward after he started at midfield for six games.
Vaccaro is no stranger to starting. He had seven starts his freshman year and finished the season with a goal and two assists. After coming off the bench for six games, Vaccaro got back into the lineup at midfield against Saint Joseph’s before getting moved to forward against the Rams.
The junior had his first and only opportunity at the goal during the 80th minute as he took a shot saved by URI goalkeeper Chris Pennock.
Adam Miller can be reached at [email protected]