Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s soccer continues road struggles with loss at Boston University

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Alex Desantis running with the ball in the game against UNH on Tuesday September 6, 2016. Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team continues to struggle on the road this season, losing again to Boston University on Saturday night.

UMass (0-4-1) has now dropped its first three road games of the season, and its road losing streak stretches to the past five games dating back to last season. BU (1-1-0) showed no signs of rusty playing in just its second game of the season and got the scoring underway early.

The Terriers opened the scoring in the 19th minute when senior forward Mark Wadid found senior midfielder David Asbjornsson unmarked in the middle of the box off a free kick, and Asbjornsson found the back of the net.

“We got a good performance from the team, unfortunately we got down on a set piece and didn’t get the result, but it was a very encouraging performance against a team that was in the NCAA tournament last year,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said.

O’Leary stressed the importance of set pieces and said the Minutemen need to improve on set pieces in order to have success late in the season when the conference tournament rolls around.

Despite BU controlling play for much of the first half, the Minutemen tallied an equalizer about 10 minutes after the opening goal.

UMass sophomore defender Brandon Merklin threw a long pass into the box, Josh Jess headed the ball towards the back post and found junior forward Alex DeSantis who headed home the lone goal for the Minutemen.

The Terriers regained momentum heading into halftime when junior midfielder Anthony Viteri beat Minutemen goalkeeper Jorge Becerra with a turn-around shot from outside the box at the 39th minute.

“Just a terrific shot from outside the box,” O’Leary said. “These things happen. He got open and he struck it brilliantly, so sometimes you have to put your hands up and just congratulate the piece of skill from the lad.”

The Minutemen failed to find another equalizer in the second half, with the only real UMass threat coming off a shot from junior midfielder Matthew Mooney that senior Matt Gilbert, the Patriot League’s reigning Goalkeeper of the Year, made a terrific save on to keep the Terriers in the lead.

“I felt we were a little unfortunate not to get the equalizer,” O’Leary said.

As had been the case in the four previous games this season, UMass struggled to create scoring chances, and were outshot by the Terriers 17 to eight.

O’Leary attributed the negative shot differential UMass tallied against BU and other teams to start the season because of the Minutemen’s difficult nonconference schedule.

“We have to keep in mind four of the first five games we’ve played teams that either won the conference or went to the NCAA tournament (last year)”, O’Leary said. “So being realistic we’re rebuilding, we’re a young side right now and we’ve deliberately chosen to play a tough nonconference schedule.”

“We’ll just keep working it, keep working our possession, and we’ll keep working our attacking patterns. I think we’re getting better every day,” he added.

The Minutemen will return home to Rudd Field on Tuesday, where the team has had more success, as they host Albany, with opening kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected].

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