UMass men’s soccer ends nonconference play with 2-1 loss to Brown

By Jason Kates

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Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

For the Massachusetts men’s soccer team, the nonconference portion of its schedule ended how it started.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead against Brown into halftime Sunday, the Minutemen (1-9) allowed goals in the 66th and 80th minutes, falling 2-1 to the Bears (4-3).

In what has been a rare occurrence this season, UMass took an initial lead in the 20th minute after sophomore Matthew Mooney tallied his first goal of the year off an assist from freshman Mark Dunphy. But Nate Pomeroy and Tim Whalen led the comeback charge for Brown and handed the Minutemen their third straight loss.

Although his team lost its ninth game out of 10 this season, UMass coach Fran O’Leary said he believed Sunday was one of the Minutemen’s better performances this year.

“I thought, head and shoulders, it was one of our best performances of the season,” O’Leary said. “I really feel sorry for our lads. We came in at halftime (1-0) up and controlled and continued in the second half to take the game to Brown.”

O’Leary acknowledged that UMass caught a couple bad breaks in hitting the post for the second game in a row, as well as a chance that fell just short of crossing the Bears’ goal line.

“Had that one gone in, we’re up [2-0] and the game is really out of reach for Brown,” he said. “But we’re not getting the little breaks right now. Sometimes when you’re struggling you don’t get the breaks, but overall we come away disappointed with the result but pleased with the performance.”

The Bears’ comeback began shortly after UMass almost doubled its lead in the 62nd minute when senior forward Lenoir Sery had a shot cleared off Brown’s goal line. Just four minutes later, Pomeroy tallied the equalizer to tie the game at one. Brown’s rally was complete when a corner kick found Whalen, who headed the ball home past Minutemen goalie Jorge Becerra.

For Becerra, a junior transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, Sunday marked his second start of the year. He made three saves in the losing effort.

When asked what he thought had changed in the second half to allow Brown to get back into the game, O’Leary felt there wasn’t much different between the way UMass played coming out of the break.

“I don’t think anything changed, I thought we dominated the second half,” he said. “They got a long-range goal that just looped over our keeper, [Pomeroy] just caught the ball right.”

O’Leary added: “We had three or four chances, so we’re unfortunate not to take one of them. I think had we taken one we would’ve pushed on and been comfortable winners. If anything, our guys were better in the second half.”

With this portion of the regular season in the books, the Minutemen now turn their attention to Atlantic 10 play, which will begin Saturday at Saint Joseph’s.

For O’Leary and UMass, next weekend represents a fresh start and a chance for the team to put a dreadful beginning to the season behind them.

“I think all along we knew that if we were going to do anything, the only way to do it would be through the A-10’s,” O’Leary said. “I said to the guys after the game that if we win on Saturday, we’ll be sitting atop the A-10.

“If we perform the way we performed [Sunday], we’ll win games in this conference.”

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jason_Kates.