Syracuse snaps UMass’ home winning streak

By Taylor C. Snow

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team had been unstoppable at home so far this season, but that changed Tuesday afternoon when it suffered a 2-0 loss to Syracuse at Rudd Field in the program’s first-ever matchup against the Orange.

Taylor Snow/Collegian

UMass was 3-0-1 at home heading into the contest before the loss.

The Minutemen knew they would be tested against a team that, entering Tuesday, had the most shutouts in the nation. Syracuse’s defensive prowess showed, as it added its eighth shutout of the year.

Orange freshman goalkeeper Alex Bono earned his sixth shutout, but his presence in net was, relatively speaking, not necessary, as UMass was unable to get a shot on net.

Meanwhile on the defensive side, the Minutemen backline and goalkeeper Brian Frame had to constantly be on their toes, as Syracuse clocked 16 shots and landed eight on net.

Frame was impressed by the Orange’s execution on the offensive end.

“They were a different type of team (from those that) we’ve seen so far,” Frame said. “They kept the ball really well, (there was) a lot of passing, a lot of movement off the ball and they created a lot of chances. We just didn’t do enough to get some clearances and obviously didn’t do enough to keep them out of the net.”

The first blow came in the 17th minute when a loose ball made its way just outside the box and landed at the feet of Syracuse’s Jordan Murrell. The sophomore defender lined his second goal of the season past Frame just inside the lower-right post.

“We can’t give too many opportunities like that,” UMass coach Sam Koch said of the goal. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized.”

The Orange kept firing away and Frame was alert as he made six saves on the afternoon. But the intense Syracuse offense finally got to UMass again late in the second half.

Orange sophomore defender Skylar Thomas headed a ball off the right post before collecting his own rebound, opening a golden opportunity as he knocked in his second goal of the year in the 76th minute.

The Minutemen failed to come up with any type of heroic comeback, as the Orange continued to control the game up until the very end. They outshot UMass, 16-4, and had 10 corner kick opportunities, compared to the Minutemen’s zero.

Koch was disappointed by the team’s effort in the game.

“It was not the result that we wanted but I think it was the result we deserved today,” Koch said. “We just didn’t play well. … We’ve got to come and play every game and I’m not sure everybody did.”

Luckily for UMass, Syracuse is one of the toughest opponents it will have to face, and the slate is now seemingly wiped clean as it goes into conference play. Tuesday’s game marked the final non-conference game of the regular season, as the Minutemen head into the all-important second half.

But Koch knows that the Orange will not be the last challenge they face this year.

“I think everybody on our team realizes that (Syracuse) is a team that’s going to be like at least three other (teams left on our schedule),” Koch said.

Koch listed matchups against Charlotte, Dayton and Xavier as the three future games that may compare to Tuesday’s matchup against Syracuse. The 49ers and Musketeers are ranked No. 13 and 19, respectively, and Syracuse is not currently ranked at all. On top of that, the three aforementioned upcoming games are all on the road, where the Minutemen have yet to muster a win.

UMass has an international exhibition game in Montreal on Sunday before kicking off conference play at Rhode Island on Oct. 6.

Taylor Snow can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @Taylor_C_Snow.