UMass drops 1-0 decision to Hartford

By Staff

Maria Uminski/Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team’s struggles continue, as the Minutemen fell to Hartford, 1-0, Wednesday afternoon at Rudd Field to mark their fourth loss in a row.

The Hawks (2-5-1) dictated the tempo throughout the game, taking advantage of poor positioning from UMass (1-7-0) and limiting the number of scoring chances, as the Maroon and White’s losing streak consists of four one-goal affairs.

“It’s very frustrating because I think we’re a better team than [the way] we’re playing, but we’re not because we’re making mistakes,” said UMass coach Sam Koch.

Sophomore David Bernhardsson scored the game-winning goal for Hartford in the 38th minute on a two-on-one break after receiving a crossing pass from freshman Atobra Ampadu. Sophomore Anthony Santaga split the Minutemen defense to set up the score, as the Hawks broke the scoreless tie.

The goal came less than a minute after a penalty kick from Bernhardsson struck the crossbar, as the Tjorn, Sweden native had UMass goalkeeper Shane Curran-Hays diving in the opposite direction, leaving a wide-open net that he could not cash in on.

Koch expressed frustration after the game, as he felt that UMass was the better team but continually “[shot] ourselves in the foot.”

Koch attributes Hartford’s quality scoring chances to self-inflicted errors, poor positioning and lack of discipline, which he took responsibility for.

UMass is an inexperienced team, which explains the “growing pains” the team is enduring.

“These are all bumps in the road and it’s just a really bumpy road right now,” said Koch.

UMass’ best scoring opportunity came in the 27th minute, as junior Dominic Skrajewski fired a shot from the top of the box that Hawks goalkeeper Luke Citriniti barely got a piece of in the back corner of the net.

The Minutemen continued to struggle in the offensive end of the field, tallying just three shots on net, with just one coming in the second half.

UMass was without sophomore forward Brett Canepa and senior Andrew Henshaw for the game.

Senior captain Bryant Craft believes that the team needs to bring the same level of intensity throughout the game in order to break out of their scoring slump.

“If we just raise our energy [and] we play hard for 90 minutes, I think the goals and the results will come,” said Craft.

Hartford nearly earned a penalty kick in the 20th minute, as it appeared that UMass defender Matt Keys committed a handball in the box. The freshman was fighting for position on a throw-in and as both players fell to the ground, Keys appeared to have contacted the ball on his way down, but the referee did not make the call.

The Hawks dominated the pace early in the contest, exerting intense ball pressure on the Minutemen, which did not allow the home team to get comfortable.

Hartford outshot UMass, 10-4, in the first half, as the Hawks were able to continually set up their offense deep in the Minutemen zone.

Despite UMass’ tough start to the season, Craft is optimistic that his team is not far from where they need to be when Atlantic 10 play starts on October 7.

“It’s tough, but like coach has been telling us, the only games that matter are the conference games,” said Craft. “This is [going to] build character and get us ready for the conference. We’re getting there…We just [have to] put it all together for 90 minutes, which we haven’t done yet.”

“Sometimes you have to be patient,” added Koch. “I don’t want to be patient because I want to win now, but we [have to] be realistic.”

The Minutemen return to action on Saturday night at Dartmouth.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected]