Midfielder Ben Arikian moves up assists chart

By Herb Scribner

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

After earning an assist during the Massachusetts men’s soccer team’s 2-2 draw with Sienna, midfielder Ben Arikian is now tied for fourth all-time in assists in Maroon and White soccer history.

“I had no idea I was up for that until last assist someone brought it to my attention,” Arikian said. “I guess it’s cool, but it doesn’t mean as much as winning. I’d rather be getting these wins than these assists.”

UMass coach Sam Koch had much praise for the captain of his squad.

“I’m not surprised,” Koch said. “We need him to keep playing well for us to do well. So I’m happy for him, but we need some wins…He’s creating good opportunities for players. He’s a good player, no question about it. Can he play better? We’re striving to do that every week with everyone.”

Down one goal after falling behind by a pair in the second half against the Saints (3-5-1), Arikian provided a praise-worthy assist to Stuart Amick.

Off a long ball sent in by the defense, Arikian gave the ball a light touch, which sent it right to the feet of Amick. Amick pursued the net and scored the goal to complete the UMass (1-3-5) comeback.

Arikian is a proven leader for the Minutemen, which is quite evident from the way he continued to motivate his team following the Sienna match.

 “We can’t give away early goals,” Arikian said. “We’ve got to make sure we stay focused the whole game; we got a lot of shots off today, [but] we’ve just got to make them better, put them on target, and get them in the goal.”

Arikian’s new spot in UMass’ record books hasn’t gone to the midfielder’s head, either.

“I, for one, did a terrible job again finishing like last game,” Arikian said of his performance. “Hopefully we turn that around this week and we’ll be focusing on that more than anything, because that’s been a problem of ours.”

Arikian has been a caregiver with the ball since his collegiate career began in 2007, earning his first assist against Northeastern. He would tally five more that season, including a pair against conference-rival Saint Joseph’s.

During the 2007 campaign, which included a Minutemen run to the NCAA tournament, Arikian notched one of his assists against Central Connecticut.

 The N.Y. native continued his spur of assisting success in the following season, as he totaled one extra assist than the previous campaign. The most noteworthy of his performances was a pair against Saint Louis.

Last year was a bit of a downer for Arikian, as it was for the entire UMass offense. Arikian put more pressure on scoring goals, totaling three goals and four assists during the season.

Already through the preseason, Arikian has surpassed his numbers last season with five, bringing his total to 22 assists. Arikian now sits tied for fourth place with Kurt Manal and Andy Bing, who both played together during the 1984-1986 seasons.

Dave Siljanovski tops the list with 26 total assists. With the conference schedule approaching, Arikian may have the perfect opportunity to gain on those who sit atop him and become an all-time UMass leader.

 Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]