One thing that’s been a constant for the Massachusetts men’s soccer team so far this season has been the play of goalkeeper Brian Frame.
However, that did not appear to be the case on Wednesday night as he allowed a season-high three goals, all in the second half, and made just four saves as UMass fell to Hartford, 3-2.
The Minutemen (2-2-1) have now lost two in a row with both letdowns coming on the road by one-goal deficits. Unfortunately for UMass, that trend won’t be ending any time soon as the Minutemen still have two more games in their four-game road swing, which resumes Friday night at New Hampshire.
“It was just one of those days,” UMass coach Sam Koch said. “It was not a good day.”
Koch was especially unhappy with the referees, whom he felt were letting players get away with just about anything.
“They let assault and battery go,” Koch said. “I felt like we were going back to the Wild West.”
Although the game looked poor for Frame on paper, Koch was impressed with the play of his keeper and felt it was defensive miscues that led to easy scoring opportunities for the Hawks.
“Brian Frame played well and made some outstanding saves,” Koch said. “He kept us in the game.”
Many of those defensive mistakes and poor turnovers is just the product of being a young team, Koch said.
He said Hartford’s “skill level was just a little better than ours, but that’s what happens when you’re a young team. As we get more experience we’ll get smarter and we won’t be giving teams these chances.”
What did serve as a pleasant surprise for UMass was the play of the offense, which had its first multi-goal effort since Oct. 1 of last year in a 2-1 win over then-No. 19 Bradley.
“I give the guys a lot of credit for coming back,” Koch said. “They kept their composure and put a lot of pressure on them.
“Hartford is a good team. They’re seasoned and good at drawing fouls. We’re not as good at that, but I’m proud of the way our guys kept their discipline.”
Getting on the board for the Minutemen were Matt Keys and Dan Sangster, each driving home their first goals of the season.
However, it was Anthony Santaga that led the way for the Hawks (4-3) with a goal on six shots. His tally on a penalty kick in the 77th minute served as the go-ahead goal for his third tally of the season.
Keys kicked off the scoring in the 19th minute after redirecting a penalty kick from 35 yards out by senior Dominic Skrajewski with his head into the top-right corner of the net past goalkeeper Viltsu Tuumi, who made no saves in the contest.
“That set-piece was great execution on the service,” Koch Said. “We’ve been working hard on those situations in practice so I was pleased with how we executed.”
The Minutemen took the advantage into intermission, but the Hawks came out fast and delivered the equalizer in the 57th minute when Javoni Simms buried home his fifth goal of the season past Frame.
The real scoring frenzy began in the game’s final 20 minutes, starting with Hartford taking the 2-1 lead in the 72nd minute after a scuttle in front of the net following a free kick led to a goal by Damion Lowe.
UMass responded almost immediately following a free kick by Hellah Sidibe that came off the head of Brett Canepa and onto the boot of Sangster who finished in front of the net to knot the score at two in the 76th minute.
However, it was the Hawks that got the best of this scoring spree as just a minute later when Santaga capitalized on a penalty kick.
Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Canelas.