UMass men’s soccer hopes to secure first win of season against Hartford

By Jason Kates

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team is set to take on Hartford Wednesday afternoon, as it looks to avenge a 2-1 loss just one year ago in Connecticut.

The Minutemen (0-6)  will have the home-field advantage this time around,  and will look to build off an encouraging performance this past Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Boston University, which resulted in their sixth straight defeat to open the 2015 season.

The last time they met, it was a heartbreaking loss for UMass, allowing a goal at the 94 minute, 45 second mark of the first overtime. It was junior Romario Jones who scored both goals for the Hawks (1-2-2), while Luke Pavone had the lone tally for the Minutemen.

Coach Fran O’Leary was proud of the way his team played against the Terriers and hopes his team carries it over into this nonconference affair. Getting off to a fast start is something O’Leary said he would be looking for in this one, as UMass has been outscored 11-1 in the first half this year.

“I think the first 15 minutes of the game will be very important tomorrow,” O’Leary said. “It’s gonna be important to set the tone early and make sure we put (Hartford) on the back foot.”

Hartford is on a two-game losing streak of its own entering Wednesday’s game. It most recently took No. 22 Old Dominion into double-overtime, but fell 3-2 last Sunday.

UMass has only scored two goals this season, but O’Leary’s message to his team has been to not get discouraged and to keep plugging away, starting with tomorrow’s game.

“I keep telling the guys that the chances will come and we just have to keep working,” O’Leary said. “They’re extremely dedicated to each other and to the process so I think the chances will present themselves.”

The young UMass back line will be tasked with facing a Hartford trio consisting of senior Javoni Simms and juniors Jeff Tryon and Brian Richards. Through their first five games, they have accounted for all six of the Hawks’ goals. Tyron also has two assists on the season.

With a roster that boasts 17 underclassmen, O’Leary stressed the importance of his younger guys gaining experience as the Minutemen approach Atlantic 10 Conference play. As the season progresses, the first-year head coach believes these are the games that will get his team ready for conference play.

“Yeah, I think these games are very important for the growth of our guys,” O’Leary said.

He added that with the conference play coming up, it’s crucial that his team continues to work hard and get better as a unit if they want to compete with some of the best teams in the A-10.

“If we keep at it and work together, I told the guys we will start to see better results.”

Wednesday’s game is set to start at 4 p.m. at Rudd Field.

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