UMass soccer finishes season against St. Bonaventure Saturday

By Adam Aucoin

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(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

It’s been a long and difficult season for the Massachusetts men’s soccer team.

It’s a season that has seen the Minutemen be competitive at times. But they were a team that never really found their stride.

With UMass (2-14-1) losing its last game against a strong Davidson team on the road, the Minutemen fell out of contention for an Atlantic 10 tournament berth. UMass had yet another strong start against Davidson. However it failed to finish the game strong, a trend that’s been the Achilles heel for this team all season long.

Interim coach Devin O’Neill is cognizant of the fact that the team is out of contention for a playoff berth, but is hoping for them to come out strong Saturday.

“We hope to come out with energy and excitement Saturday,” O’Neill said. “The guys know that we are out of contention, but we have preached to them to continue to represent the program well and compete in the best way we can. I’m hoping we come out with some intensity on Saturday.”

The Minutemen were able to sneak into last year’s tournament with a late run, getting knocked out in the first round against top seed Saint Louis. Unfortunately, the final push in the 2014 season simply wasn’t good enough.

“Every season is different and comes with its own challenges,” O’Neill said. “I think we have played pretty well, but we just haven’t been able to get anything out of those games.”

St. Bonaventure, UMass’ opponent on Saturday, currently sits at the bottom of the conference, as the Bonnies are 1-14 and are currently riding a nine-game losing streak heading into this game.
Despite their opponent’s struggles, the Minutemen won’t take the final match lightly.

“No matter who we play, we hope to show up with a great performance,” O’Neill said. “I’m sure St. Bonaventure wants to end their season on a high note just as bad as us.”

With this end of the season comes another big blow to the Minutemen. Saturday marks the last game defender Matt Keys and forward Josh Schwartz will ever put on an UMass uniform. The loss of these two players will not be easy for the team.

Keys has been a four-year starter for the Minutemen and a defensive stalwart for the team. Along the way, he tallied nine goals and four assists for the team. Schwartz has also produced for UMass over the years, scoring 17 goals in his career and claiming the title as leading goal scorer for the team this year (four). Along with being a special talent on the field, Schwartz was named an academic all-district team member for the third straight year.

“Matt and Josh are both examples of what we want our soccer players to be,” O’Neill said. “They strive to excel both on the field and more importantly in the classroom. They have had great careers and the example they set is perfect for our team.”

Even with this being the last game of the year, there is still plenty of dedication and pride going into the game on Saturday.

“It’s all about playing to your own standards and doing the things that won’t show up in that stat sheet,” O’Neill said. “Things like challenging balls and going for headers and all those effort categories are important to us and are what we look for in our guys.”

Despite the tough season, O’Neill believes there is much hope for the future of UMass soccer.

“We think the future of UMass soccer looks very strong,” O’Neill said. “Our younger guys have responded well to the senior leadership on this team. I’m hoping sooner, rather than later this hard work pays off for them.”

The game against St. Bonaventure starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Rudd Field.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected]