Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen split pair with conference foes

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team managed to split its opening weekend of Atlantic 10 play, topping Saint Louis 1-0 on Sunday, while falling to No. 14 Charlotte 2-1 in overtime on Friday.

UMass (3-9-0, 1-1-0 A-10) scored first in both matches at Rudd Field, but could only hold off the Billikens (2-7-1, 0-2-0 A-10). The Minutemen surrendered the equalizer to the 49ers (8-2-1, 1-0-1 A-10) in the second half, which led to the opposition’s golden goal late in the second overtime.

Brett Canepa capitalized on a penalty kick in the 50th minute against Saint Louis, as the sophomore snuck a shot past diving goalkeeper Nick Shackelford for the game-winner, his second in three games.

Canepa knew how important it was to salvage a split for the weekend as opposed to dropping to 0-2.

“It’s huge,” said Canepa. “We had a hard-fought game against Charlotte and got unlucky, so that kind of sucked, but we knew that this game was huge and we got the ‘W.’”

UMass coach Sam Koch agreed.

“It’s vital,” said Koch. “To go 0-2 after the first two games would have made it extremely difficult going into the next four games.”

Sophomore Connor DeVivo set up the golden opportunity after playing a ball inside the box that hit the hand of a defender, resulting in a handball foul.

UMass dodged a bullet in the 65th minute when Billikens freshman Kingsley Bryce got behind the Minutemen defense, forcing UMass goalkeeper Shane Curran-Hays to leave the box and contend the shot. The senior’s effort was enough to force an errant shot that missed the net and the opportunity to knot the score at a goal apiece.

Canepa barely missed his second goal of the game in the 83rd minute when his shot rang off the crossbar.

Curran-Hays earned his second shutout of the season, as the defense as a whole was effective throughout the game.

The Minutemen also got off to a fast start in Friday’s match.

Freshman Josh Schwartz netted his second goal of the season in the 11th minute on a feed from Canepa to give the home team an early lead against nationally-ranked Charlotte.

UMass could not hold off the 49ers, however, as sophomore Thomas Allen headed home a corner kick from junior Donnie Smith for the equalizer in the 66th minute.

After the first overtime period yielded no score, the 49ers finally persevered in the 107th minute as Guiseppe Gentile’s shot from inside the box found the back of the net to cap Charlotte’s comeback.
“I thought that when it was tied up, it was an even game and so I thought a tie would have been a just result …” said Koch, who later added that Charlotte deserves credit for coming from behind.

Curran-Hays gathered eight saves in the loss, which marks his greatest total of the season.

The Minutemen were outshot on the weekend, 33-19, pacing neck-and-neck with Saint Louis, 12-12, but allowing a 21-7 differential to Charlotte.

Senior captain Bryant Craft was inactive for both games with a lingering quad injury that he suffered back on Sept. 24 against Dartmouth.

“Everybody’s [got to] pick it up a little more without Craft out there, but I think everybody did a good job,” said Koch.

The offense has picked up the slack as of late by scoring first in the last four contests, a far cry from its early scoring woes.

“We’re starting to come together, starting to see certain things, certain options and starting to play a lot better,” said Canepa, who along with Schwartz and DeVivo, have sparked the Minutemen in the offensive end in the absence of Craft.

Koch is encouraged that they were able to get a win despite the fact that his team did not perform at its best.

“I don’t think we played that well and still got the win [on Sunday], which I think says a lot of what we can do, but we have to start doing it,” said Koch.

The Minutemen continue conference play next weekend, leaving the confines of Rudd Field to travel to Fordham and La Salle on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected].


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